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Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

Think You Understand Gum Disease?

Over the years, gum disease has become one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults. Yet, it still doesn’t receive as much attention as it should. Periodontal disease is the clinical name for gum disease. The stages of gum disease include gingivitis, the mildest form, and various forms of periodontitis. Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums and other support structures for teeth. Untreated periodontal disease can be a very serious condition, causing teeth to fall out. Learning about the signs of the disease can help you seek treatment early, before serious damage occurs.

Why You Should Educate Yourself About Gum Health

Your gums are your smile’s foundation. They protect the ligaments and bone that hold your teeth by sealing out bacteria that can damage them. With advanced stages of gum disease, pockets form between the teeth and the gums, allowing harmful bacteria to enter those previously protected spaces. Once underneath your gums, the inflammation can spread, even entering your bloodstream and causing health problems throughout your body.

Gum disease is also the leading cause of tooth loss in American adults age 30 and older. You should care about gum health because you only have one set of natural teeth. While you can replace teeth with dentures, dental bridges and implants, these are expensive, time consuming options. It’s so much easier to take care of your gums than wear dentures for the rest of your life.

Periodontal disease, specifically the bacteria and inflammation, is linked to the development of several conditions. Multiple studies suggest periodontal disease increases a person’s risk of developing heart disease. Severe gum disease makes it harder for diabetics to control their blood sugar levels, putting them at risk for diabetic complications. If you suspect you may have gum disease, see a dentist without delay. Getting treatment can help protect your general health.

Who Gets Gum Disease?

Periodontal disease can affect anyone, even children. Nevertheless, it primarily affects adults. The CDC estimates nearly half of Americans age 30 and over have some form of the disease. It gets worse with age; up to 70 percent of people age 65 and over have gum disease. Men get gum disease more often than women, possibly because they see a dentist less often.

It’s primarily caused by poor dental care at home. If you have plaque buildup near the gumline, it will cause gum inflammation, which is gingivitis. Without treatment, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis, a more destructive form of gum disease.

Some individuals are more apt to develop gum disease, including the following.

  • Smokers and those that chew tobacco face a greater risk of developing gum disease and have it progress faster
  • People with crooked teeth who can’t clean them well
  • Individuals with a family history of gum disease
  • People with compromised immune systems
  • Malnourished individuals
  • Individuals who take medications that cause dry mouth
  • Women undergoing hormonal changes from pregnancy or menopause

Recognizing the Most Common Signs of Gum Disease

Did you know that most people don’t even know when they have gingivitis? If you do have gum disease, some of the typical signs of gum disease will include:

  • Dark purple or red gums
  • Puffy, swollen gums
  • Gums that are tender and bleed easily
  • Receding gums that make your teeth appear longer
  • New gaps between your teeth
  • It hurts to chew
  • Loose teeth
  • Chronic bad breath or a foul taste in your mouth

The only way to be certain that gum disease is causing the symptoms you’re noticing is to visit a dentist for a diagnosis.

Types of Periodontal Disease

Gum disease starts out as gingivitis. It often progresses to periodontitis without treatment.

  • Gingivitis – Gingivitis is the mildest type of periodontal disease. A buildup of plaque near the gums leads to inflammation, making the gums swell and feel tender. They may bleed when you brush or floss. If you notice any of these signs of gingivitis, it’s important to see a dentist for treatment. Without treatment to reverse the disease, gingivitis could turn into periodontitis, which can result in eventual tooth loss without treatment. Gingivitis treatment is easier, faster and non-invasive compared to treatment for periodontitis.
  • Chronic Periodontitis – Chronic periodontitis is the most common form of periodontitis. It is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting the gums, ligaments and alveolar bone supporting the teeth. The bacteria which destroys the supporting structures gets underneath the gums through the periodontal pockets that form between the teeth and gums. Treatment can control the infection and stop the damage.
  • Aggressive Periodontitis – Aggressive periodontitis differs from chronic periodontitis because there can be low levels of plaque in a person’s mouth and they still experience rapid bone and tissue destruction. It mostly affects young people who are healthy. Aggressive periodontitis also runs in families. Patients may notice gaps between their teeth and experience a dull pain. Treatment can include a deep dental cleaning to clear our bacteria from under the gums. Antibiotic therapy is also a common treatment option.
  • Necrotizing Periodontitis – Necrotizing periodontitis is the most severe form of periodontal disease. There are necrotic lesions on the gums, ligaments and alveolar bone where the tooth sockets are connected to the jawbone. The disease is most common in people with compromised immune systems and smokers.

The Best Way to Keep Your Gums Healthy

The best way to keep your gums healthy is to brush and floss properly. Brush your teeth at least two times every day, spending 30 seconds on each quarter of your mouth. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle pointed toward your gums. Floss once a day, making sure to floss between each tooth to remove plaque. Using an antibacterial mouthwash will also help prevent plaque. You should also see an affordable dentist in Gainesville for regular exams and dental teeth cleanings two times a year.

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