When you look in the mirror and smile, your attention most likely immediately goes to your teeth, but did you know that your gums are also a vital part of a healthy smile? Many people overlook their gums, concentrating instead on achieving those pearly whites that are so coveted. Gum disease is a serious condition that can lead to tooth loss and other serious dental issues. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) states that gum disease actually leads to more dental health issues than cavities.
One of the reasons that you should know about gum disease and how to prevent it is that gum disease can be linked to many other health issues throughout the body. Gum disease is associated with strokes, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. Many people that have gum disease aren’t even aware that they have it because warning signs can be tricky to spot.
A common misconception is that gum disease is always a result of poor dental hygiene, but this is not always the case. Some people are just genetically susceptible to getting the disease, no matter how well they take care of their teeth and gums. In other cases, lack of brushing and regular dental cleanings and check ups can increase the chances that someone can get gum disease. Using tobacco, in any form, also greatly increases your chances of getting dental gum disease.
The two types of gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis, can be diagnosed by your dentist. Gingivitis is the less severe of the two types of gum disease and refers to excess plaque that eventually causes inflammation of the gums. Periodontitis is a more advanced gum disease, with the gums actually beginning to pull away from the teeth and create pockets where bacteria can live and become infected.Whereas gingivitis can be treated and the damage reversed, periodontitis cannot be treated and only maintained by regular cleanings and check ups with your dentist.
Some warning signs might include frequent gum bleeding, gums pulling away from your teeth, or a slight change in how teeth fit together. If you experience any of these signs, or know that there is a history of gum disease in your family, you should consult your dentist.
Now that you’re informed, stay on top of your total dental health and schedule regular dental visits to make sure that your mouth is as healthy as it can be!