Gum disease is a very serious and very prevalent chronic health condition. Estimates of the number of adults affected by gum disease range as high as 75%. It is not only the leading cause of tooth loss, it’s also one of the most serious threats to your overall health. It can impact your heart, lungs, kidneys, and more, making it crucial to get proper treatment to protect your overall health. We have a periodontist who can provide specialized care for your gum disease.
Gum Disease Symptoms
It is an infection of the gums. It occurs when bacteria infiltrate your gums and begin to grow there, causing damage to your gums and the bones that surround and support your teeth. But the most serious damage occurs when your body begins to respond to gum disease. It can trigger an extreme immune response that will damage your gums and bones, leading to tooth loss and triggering effects in sometimes distant parts of the body.
But gum disease may begin with very modest symptoms that can be hard to notice. Here are some of the symptoms, starting with the more common and ranging to the more severe:
- Red or swollen gums
- Painful gums when brushing, flossing, or eating
- Persistent bad breath
- Bleeding gums
- Tooth sensitivity
- Receding gums
- Loose or mobile teeth
- Tooth loss
It’s important to remember that your gums should not hurt or bleed when you brush, floss, or eat. This is a sign of advanced gum disease that may soon get worse.
The Effects of Gum Disease on Your Health
Gum disease is a persistent infection that triggers chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation can be very damaging to your tissues, and it can show up far away from the actual site of infection. You might experience the effects of a body that is worn out from fighting infection, which may include chronic fatigue, vulnerability to colds, and even acne, among other symptoms.
But gum disease can have focused and acute effects on your health, too. Bleeding gums allow bacteria to penetrate your bloodstream and travel directly to your heart. This can cause infection of the heart valves, which can lead to impeded function and potentially even heart failure. The bacteria can even contribute to clogging of your arteries, increasing your stroke risk.
Bacteria traveling through the blood can impact a pregnancy, increasing the risk of serious complications.
Oral bacteria can be inhaled, contributing to pneumonia risk, and gum disease can impact your body’s ability to control blood sugar levels, making it harder to control your diabetes.
And there are even signs that it can contribute to cancer risk. This includes oral cancer, but it has been linked to breast cancer and colon cancer, too.
How Treatment Works
Gum disease treatment depends on the severity of your condition. The simplest treatment includes minor modifications to your oral hygiene and an increased frequency of dental visits. We may give you additional treatments to add to your routine or recommend over-the-counter remedies.
For more serious gum disease, we will have to clean out the pockets around your teeth. This will allow us to protect your teeth, and also head off the body’s extreme immune response, hopefully.
For the most severe cases, surgery may be recommended.