Most people are aware of how tooth decay can damage teeth. However, not as many understand the process of gum disease and how common it is in adults. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, affects nearly half of American adults. It begins when the sticky film of bacteria known as plaque is not thoroughly removed from teeth. The bacteria build up on the teeth and begin to cause red, irritated, and swollen gums. This early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. Since gingivitis rarely causes pain, most patients are unaware they have the disease. These patients may notice slight bleeding of their gums when they brush or floss.
If left untreated, gingivitis can advance and cause gums to recede and destroy the supporting structures around the teeth. Teeth become loose and may need to be extracted. In fact, it is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults.
In addition to tooth loss, science has shown there is a connection between the health of our mouth and the health of our bodies. Research has shown there is a relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes, heart disease, low-birth-weight babies, and even respiratory disease. More recent studies are leading scientists to believe many of these associations are tied to inflammation factors found in these diseases.
The good news is that the effects of gum disease can be stopped. Future complications can even be prevented by establishing good oral hygiene habits like brushing after meals and daily flossing. If you have concerns about the health of your gums and teeth, call our office today to schedule your dental examination.