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Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

The More You Know About Gum Disease the Better Protected You Are

Gum disease, AKA periodontal disease, is an inflammatory condition affecting the soft tissues that support the teeth. Periodontal literally means “around the tooth”. It makes sense then that gum disease starts out as inflammation of the gingival (gum) tissues and can lead to eventual tooth loss without treatment. The disease is progressive, but it can be reversed in its earliest stage. You’ll need to keep a sharp eye out for gum disease as it can be very silent, presenting no symptoms until it’s too late. Luckily, a good dental hygiene routine is a great prevention method for avoiding gum disease.

Why Gum Health Matters

Your gum health matters for several reasons. First, inflamed gums detract from an otherwise nice smile. If you have nice teeth and red, puffy gums, your gums are all that people will notice. Unhealthy gums also lead to bad breath and pockets of pus forming around the teeth. Next, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults age 30 and over. Keeping your gums healthy will help you avoid expensive tooth replacement options. Finally, gum disease can affect your general health, increasing your risk for, or aggravating, serious health problems.

Would you believe that over 75 percent of adults have some form of gum disease? How about the fact that 65 percent of teenages over the age of 15 have some form of gum disease? It’s difficult to believe, but those are true statements. Since gum disease is so dangerous, it’s important to get treatment right away. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of people that have gum disease know they have it, making treatment very hard to request. Education is the best defense in this case.

Considering periodontal disease is nearly always preventable, these facts show many people are not aware of how important it is to care for their gums as well as their teeth. You can prevent gum disease with regular trips to the dentist and a healthy dental care routine.

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

The bacteria in plaque and tartar is the primary cause of gum disease. Everyone gets plaque, the sticky film that makes your teeth feel unclean, on their teeth. If you don’t remove it with twice-daily brushing and once-daily flossing, it can harden into tartar. The bacteria in plaque and tartar will irritate the gums, causing gingivitis. If a person does not get treatment to reverse the disease, it may turn into periodontitis as the bacteria gets under the gum. Periodontitis is a manageable form of gum disease, but it can’t be reversed.

There are certain risk factors that make people more likely to get gum disease besides poor oral hygiene. They include the following:

  • Tobacco use – The toxins introduced into the body from tobacco, both smoked and chewed, inhibit the body’s ability to fight off bacteria.
  • Not having regular dental cleanings – Dentists are adept at picking out problems before they become bigger issues. You might not notice your gums are more red then before, but to your dentist it will be obvious.
  • This could be the difference between curing gingivitis and getting fake teeth put in after a bout of periodontitis.
  • Certain diseases, including immune deficiencies – A weakened immune system makes it difficult for your body to fight off bacteria.
  • Certain medications that make a person’s mouth dry – Saliva is responsible for rinsing bacteria fro the mouth frequently. Dry mouth prevents that from happening.
  • Chronic stress – Stress produces hormones that impact the body and make it more susceptible to injury, illness and disease.
  • Heredity – Over 30 percent of people that get gum disease have a predisposition through their family history.
  • Hormonal changes – Going through puberty, menopause, menstruation and other hormonal fluctuations can make the gums more sensitive and create the perfect environment for gum disease.
  • Crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean.

Gum Disease Signs and Symptoms

Many people are unaware they have this destructive disease, and often they don’t know what to look for in terms of signs. If you notice any of the following, it would be a good idea to discuss it with your dentist. Look for:

  • Tender gums
  • Bright red gums
  • Gums which bleed easily
  • A foul taste in your mouth
  • Pockets of pus between your teeth and gums
  • Unusual gaps between teeth
  • Your bite changes
  • Loose teeth
  • A change in the way dentures fit

Periodontal Disease Classifications

Gingivitis is the earliest form of gum disease. It is characterized by irritated and inflamed gums. With treatment, gingivitis is curable, so it is important to see one as soon as you notice your gums look swollen, bright red, or if they bleed a little when you brush your teeth. Gingivitis can progress to a more serious form of gum disease unless it is reversed with a dental cleaning and improved oral hygiene habits.

When gingivitis is not treated, it turns into periodontitis. This is not good and can be very painful. There are a few versions of periodontitis and your chances of developing one or the other will depend on your lifestyle and risk factors. The types are as follows:

  • Chronic Periodontitis – At this stage, you will begin to see periodontal pockets forming. Gums will begin receding, making your teeth appear longer. Chronic periodontitis progresses slowly, but there may be periods of rapid disease progression. This is the most common form of periodontitis. The goal of treatment, which usually consists of antibiotic therapy and a deep dental cleaning, is to remove bacteria from the pockets and prevent tissue and bone destruction. Patients also have to practice meticulous dental hygiene at home to to control the disease.
  • Aggressive Periodontitis – People who develop aggressive periodontitis are usually otherwise healthy. Aggressive periodontitis has an early onset; it is usually seen in individuals under age 30. Gums quickly separate from teeth and there is rapid bone and ligament deterioration. Early diagnosis and treatment can possibly prevent tooth loss. Treatment generally includes antibiotics, scaling and root planing procedures and improved brushing and flossing on the patient’s end.
  • Necrotizing Periodontitis – Necrotizing periodontitis is characterized by gum and ligament tissue death and bone loss. It’s frequently seen in individuals with systemic conditions, including malnutrition and HIV.

Maintaining Good Gum Health

Good oral hygiene practices are key to maintaining healthy gums. Follow these recommendations and you will be able to avoid most of the occurrences of gum disease:

  • Brush at least two times every day and floss once.
  • Brush for at least two minutes using a soft toothbrush with bristles of varying heights.
  • See a dentist in Florida every six months for a routine exam and a professional teeth cleaning. If you’re not brushing or flossing correctly, you’ll learn what to do to prevent plaque buildup.

Keeping your gums in good shape with help you maintain your smile for as long as possible.

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