When you think of the dentist office, the first thing that comes to mind is probably your teeth.
We can understand why. Keeping your teeth healthy and intact is a big part of what we do. If your smile was a movie, your teeth would be the stars.
But any movie requires a crew of people working behind the scenes as well. In a way, your gums fill that role for your smile.
We will explain more in a moment, but unhealthy gums can have a devastating effect on your smile. Sadly, we’ve seen it happen, but we would rather it not happen to any more patients at our dentist office in Reading, MA.
Our team at First Dental Associates wants you to understand the importance of your gums to your oral health, so today we are presenting 6 things we believe you should know about gum disease.
1. Gum disease is common throughout the United States.
The American Dental Hygienists Association estimates that 80 percent of Americans will have some form of periodontal disease, and many of them are unaware of the problem.
The Centers for Disease Control recently reported that 47.2 percent of adults 20 to 64 have periodontal disease.
In other words, if you don’t have gum disease already, you are likely to develop it at some point in the future.
2. Gum disease can be prevented in many cases.
Fortunately, we know that gum disease is caused by bacteria that live inside our mouths. We know that these bacteria multiply every day, and we know what we can do things to remove bacteria.
This starts with the ADA recommendations for dental care at home. You should be brushing your teeth every day, twice a day, for two minutes at a time. You also should be flossing on a daily basis, which is something less than half of Americans do, according to a recent ADA survey.
The third component of preventive care is visiting a dentist office, like First Dental Associates, for regular professional cleanings and examinations.
3. Bleeding gums are not healthy.
Many people are under the mistaken belief that it’s normal for your gums to bleed. In truth, bleeding gums are a symptom of the early stages of gum disease, which is called gingivitis.
It’s quite likely that your bleeding gums are a sign that you are not flossing as often as you should. If you start floss daily, your gums should stop bleeding in a short amount of time. If this doesn’t change things, then you should call our office as soon as you can.
Other symptoms of gingivitis include gums that look swollen or redder than they normally do.
4. Gum disease can be treated.
If you ignore the symptoms of gingivitis, you can develop the advanced gum disease known as periodontitis.
In addition to bleeding, swollen gums, you may experience gum recession, pus leaking from your gums, pain in your gums, and constant bad breath.
Fortunately, we can treat advanced gum disease at our office. We often start with scaling and root planing to remove bacteria, plaque, and tartar that has formed around the roots of your teeth. We may recommend antibiotics to make sure the bacteria are gone from that part of your mouth.
More severe cases may require gum surgery and the assistance of a periodontist, which is a dentist who specializes in gum health and treating periodontal problems.
5. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss.
Many people are surprised to learn that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the United States.
In the latter stages, your gums can separate from your teeth, and the bacteria that caused you gum disease may start to attack the bone that holds your teeth in place. This can leave your teeth feeling loose in their sockets, and this can result in them falling out.
6. Diabetes and pregnancy are both factors that increase your risk of gum disease.
Researchers are still studying the connections between diabetes and gum disease. They have not determined the exact reason why people with diabetes are more likely to have gum problems, although they do know that the conditions are linked in some way.
Pregnant women produce more progesterone, which is good for their developing babies, but also benefits the bacteria that cause gum disease. This is a reason to keep a close eye on your gums if you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant.
Take Care Of Your Gums To Maintain Your Smile
At First Dental Associates, we want to see your smiles. That’s more likely if you follow the steps to prevent gum disease or if you take action as soon as you recognize gum disease developing.