Gum disease affects nearly half of all adults in the United States, according to the CDC. In fact, the older you get, the higher your risk. The CDC reports that more than 70% of adults aged 65 years and older have some form of periodontal disease.
What is gum disease, though? How does it develop, and how can you prevent it? Fortunately, your Overland Park dentist has some answers. For starters, gum disease is a serious problem that can potentially lead to tooth loss and damage to the bones of your jaw. Many of us are already facing gum disease, even if we don’t yet know it.
What are the signs of gum disease? Gingivitis is the most common form of gum disease and is often a precursor to more serious periodontitis. Common symptoms include red and swollen gums, bad breath, new spaces between your teeth, tenderness in your gums, and blood in the sink when you’re brushing your teeth.
How does gum disease develop? Gum disease usually starts out as gingivitis, which you’ve probably heard your Overland Park dentist talk about more than once. When you don’t brush or floss as well as you should, bacteria called plaque forms on your teeth and can harden into tartar if not removed. If these harmful bacteria stay on your teeth for too long, they lead to gingivitis which, in turn, may advance to periodontitis if untreated.
What happens if gum disease is left untreated? Periodontitis causes pockets to form as gums pull away from the teeth. These pockets then become infected, which can lead to bone damage, tooth loss, and other serious problems. Even before gum disease gets that serious, it can cause bleeding gums, tooth sensitivity, and problems with chewing.
Who is most susceptible to gum disease? Gum disease rarely becomes a problem before adulthood, though the factors that can lead to it may already be in place, and it’s possible for teenagers to develop gingivitis. Preventing gum disease is all about eliminating risk factors early on. Even though most periodontitis doesn’t manifest until your 30s or 40s, you should be vigilant and brush and floss properly regardless of your age.
What are the contributing factors to gum disease? Avoiding gum disease is all about eliminating risk factors. The biggest ones are poor brushing and flossing habits and missed visits to your Overland Park dentist for bi-annual checkups and cleanings. Other contributing factors include smoking and tobacco use, nutritional deficiencies, diabetes and other illnesses, certain medications, and even a genetic predisposition. If you have a family history of gum disease or any of those other risk factors, it’s a good idea to talk with your dentist early and often.
How does a dentist treat gum disease? Fortunately, if you catch gingivitis early on, you and your dentist can work together to restore your oral health and avoid more serious problems down the road. In more advanced cases, your dentist may have to perform scaling or root planing on your teeth. This deep-clean process removes bacteria from below the gumline and helps your gums reattach to your teeth to prevent tooth loss.
What can I do to help prevent gum disease? Good news! Your best bet for preventing gum disease is something that you should already be doing: Brushing and flossing regularly and effectively and seeing your Overland Park dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup!
If you need to schedule your next visit to see your Overland Park dentist or want to learn more about gum disease and how to prevent it, call Watts Family Dental at (913) 338-3384 to schedule an appointment or chat with a member of our friendly staff today!