Gum disease is a scary monster of a health problem. It can strike at unexpected moments. It doesn’t always come with clear symptoms. And it can take a larger toll on your entire body.
When it comes to periodontal problems, prevention is the best bet. But many patients don’t even know much about gum disease. Cavities tend to get the majority of the attention, as they’re both more obvious and easier to prevent. Your delicate gums can need a bit of TLC – and understanding the factors behind disease will help you give them what they need.
In order to do our part in helping you get educated on all things gums, we’ve put together this guide. Find the section that interests you most below, and boost your disease prevention in the process.
Could I Develop Gum Disease?
The short answer is a little stressful: anyone can. Gum disease takes hold when plaque builds up on your teeth and gums. Once the plaque layer has developed, the gums become irritated by the increased presence of bacteria. This causes them to grow inflamed, red, and painful. This is the earliest stage of disease.
Stages of Disease Progression
Gingivitis, or gum inflammation, is the gateway to full-blown gum disease. If gingivitis is treated quickly, it can be dealt with before it intensifies. But if it’s allowed to develop further, it will become periodontal disease. At this point, the gums are infected, and pockets of bacteria form between the teeth and gums. The soft tissues pull away from the teeth, deepening these harmful pockets and loosening teeth. If disease continues unchecked, it will lead to bone damage and tooth loss.
Known Risk Factors
Certain habits and predispositions make it more likely for gum disease to take hold. If you fall into one of these categories, we may ask that you visit Maryland Family Dentistry for more frequent exams. That way, we’ll be able to take fast action if gingivitis is rearing its ugly head.
High risk factors include:
- Tobacco use
- Bruxism (teeth clenching/grinding)
- Lack of nutrition
- Other diseases that may aggravate inflammation
Emerging Gum Disease Findings – What You Need to Know
Research into the ramifications of gum disease is still ongoing. But the findings that have already come out suggest some troubling possibilities:
- Gum disease can aggravate systemic problems – Systemic health problems, or whole-body diseases, are extremely damaging to your health. And gum disease may play a role in bringing them into your life. There are potential links between periodontitis and heart disease, diabetes, some types of cancer, arthritis, kidney disease, and even Alzheimer’s.
- Gum disease can be triggered by hormonal changes – This puts pregnant women and menopausal women at special risk. Certain complications during pregnancy may also be intensified by periodontal problems. Scientists aren’t yet sure why hormonal fluctuations and gum disease are connected, but have put forth theories about migratory inflammation and blood-borne bacteria.
- Gum disease may shut down the immune system to thrive – A recent study found that the bacterium often responsible for gum disease manipulates tissues in a disturbing way. The bacteria in question shuts off the immune system’s ability to remove it, while preserving the inflammatory response so that it can continue to feed and grow.
Periodontal Treatment in Ellicott City
If your gums are looking swollen or feeling sore, we urge you to contact our practice. Don’t hesitate – even if it’s not a serious problem, you’ll gain peace of mind by getting it checked out. We want to tackle the problem as quickly as possible, and minimize damage. Call us, or schedule online.