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Posted on: March 23, 2021
Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease
Understanding Periodontal Disease
Since you learned to brush your teeth, you’ve probably heard of the negative impacts tooth decay and cavities can have on your dental health. And while that is certainly true, there is another disease that gets less attention, but can create more serious dental issues if left untreated. That culprit is gum disease. Missing teeth can cause embarrassment and gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. However, gum disease can be slow to develop and slow to present symptoms, making it critical for everyone to understand what gum disease is and how it can be prevented.
The Negative Impact of Gum Disease on Your Health
In its earliest stages, periodontal disease, or gum disease as it’s commonly known, is called gingivitis. This type of gum disease is relatively mild and usually presents only a few symptoms that can easily be overlooked by patients. For instance, you may think you brushed your teeth too hard or used the wrong mouthwash, rather than attribute your red gums to gingivitis. Regular dental visits are essential to ensure that this condition is spotted early.
If not treated, gingivitis will generally develop into a more serious form of periodontitis over time. Mild periodontitis may also not present many symptoms in some patients, but moderate to severe gum disease usually results in looseness of the teeth, bad breath and pockets of pus just under the tissue of the gumline.
Gum disease can often be reversed in its initial stages. Once it has progressed past a certain point, however, it can be extremely difficult to protect your teeth from the effects of periodontitis. Know that you are not alone if you have gingivitis. Over 75 percent of adults and 60 percent of teenagers have some form of gum disease. Unfortunately, only 15 percent are aware of it and are likely to actively seek treatment. As such, it’s vital to understand the warning signs and risk factors.
What Are the Causes of Gum Disease?
Most of the cases of periodontal disease are at least partially caused by poor dental hygiene habits. Failing to brush after each meal or snack, generally neglecting your teeth and not visiting the dentist regularly can result in a much higher risk of gum disease. About a third of patients with gum disease, however, develop this condition because of genetic factors outside their control.
Some of the most common contributing factors to gum disease include the following:
- Illnesses and conditions that affect the immune system can make it much more likely that the bacteria responsible for periodontitis will gain a foothold in the mouth and on the teeth and gums. These illnesses can include anything from cancer to HIV and even diabetes.
- Medications that often have dry mouth as a side effect can increase your risk for gum disease. Because dry mouth reduces the ability of the mouth to produce saliva, it can make it more difficult for the bacteria to be flushed away from the mouth during swallowing.
- Tobacco smoking or chewing habits are also implicated in the development of gum disease. Tobacco products introduce toxins into the mouth. Those toxins prevent the body from fighting off infections like gum disease.
- Hormonal changes that women experience during menopause, puberty and pregnancy actually make the gums more sensitive. This can lead to a higher instance of gum disease.
Early Warning Signs of Gum Disease
While it might not be completely obvious that you have gum disease, you may notice a few unusual symptoms. If you do, it would be best to speak with a professional, especially if you have been a bit lax about brushing your teeth lately or you have other risk factors like those listed above.
- Bleeding gums or sensitive, swollen and tender gums are usually the first noticeable signs of gum disease.
- Bad breath and an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
- Loosening of one or more teeth and changes in the way your teeth and gums feel when chewing or biting.
If you experience any of these symptoms, early detection and treatment of periodontal disease is essential to promote the best outcomes for the disease. It’s better to avoid costly and invasive procedures if possible.
What You Need to Know About the Types of Periodontitis
Periodontitis is what happens when gingivitis is allowed to continue unabated. This stage of gum disease is characterized by the gums pulling away from the teeth, plaque freely entering the pockets created and wrecking havoc on the ligaments that hold the teeth in the jawbone, the teeth and the jawbone. Eventually, the teeth become loose and fall out or have to be removed by a dental professional. This stage of the disease is painful and irreversible.
There are a few varieties of gum disease that can impact patients, depending on their risk factors.
- Chronic periodontitis, which is the most commonly diagnosed form of gum disease is more slow moving, but still results in the detachment of the gums from the teeth.
- Aggressive gum disease attacks the teeth and gums of generally healthy people and causes severe damage much more quickly than chronic types of the illness.
- Necrotizing periodontitis is most common among patients with severe immune system disorders and results in the death of tissues and ligaments within the jaw.
Steps for Preventing Periodontitis
Some of the most important things you can do to prevent gum disease from taking hold in the first place include:
- Schedule regular teeth cleanings and examinations with a qualified dentist. This will allow your dentist to spot the earliest signs of this condition and to take steps to reverse the progress of gingivitis before it develops into more serious forms of gum disease.
- Brush and floss at least twice daily. Brushing after each meal or snack is the best way to prevent bacteria from building up in your mouth and encouraging the growth of plaque, a sticky substance that adheres to your teeth and that is implicated in the development of gum disease.
- Avoid sweet and sugary foods.
- Use a mouthwash recommended by the American Dental Association to kill bacteria in your mouth between brushing and flossing.
If you are concerned about gum disease or any other dental disorders, an affordable dentist in Flint can help ensure that you don’t succumb to the final stages of gum disease. It’s much better to meet with your dentist today when you have gingivitis than in two months when you have periodontitis.