An article on gum disease from Colgate’s Oral Care Center makes a provocative point:

If your hands bled when you washed them, you would be concerned. Yet, many people think it’s normal if their gums bleed when they brush or floss.

Healthy Gums Don’t Bleed When You Brush

There are millions of Americans who suffer pain and bleeding gums when they brush their teeth.  This a clear warning signal that something is amiss.  So why aren’t more people urgently calling their dentists and saying, “Help!”?

Unfortunately, many people think that bleeding gums are a natural part of brushing.  However, it’s actually a clear sign that something is wrong, and that probably means gum disease.  According to the Center for Disease Control, almost half of Americans aged 30 and older and more than 70% of Americans 65 and older suffer from gum disease.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Gum disease is caused by the bacteria that grows inside the plaque and tartar that attaches to your teeth.  Plaque is the thin film that develops on your teeth after a meal.  If plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing, it will harden and turn into tartar, the rough substance that you can feel on the back of your front teeth.

How To Fight Gum Disease

The best strategy for attacking gum disease is twofold:

  1. Fight plaque daily through regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an ADA-recommended mouth rinse.
  2. Visit your dentist regularly to remove tartar from your teeth.

Gingivitis, the First Stage of Gum Disease

There are two types stages of gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the milder form of gum disease.  Because there is usually little discomfort or irritation at this stage, patients often don’t even realize that they have gingivitis.  But your dentist can tell you if you have gingivitis and help you devise a plan to treat the problem before it gets out of hand.

Common Symptoms of Gingivitis

Common symptoms of gingivitis include:

  • Foul-smelling breath
  • Gaps growing between teeth and gums
  • Sensitive gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Red and bleeding gums
  • Pus coming from pockets around teeth
  • Gums recede or “pull away” from teeth

What Is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is the more advanced stage of gum disease.  It is crucial that people who suffer from periodontitis see a dentist immediately.  Otherwise, it’s likely that the condition will do permanent damage to their smile.

Warning Signs for Periodontitis?

The symptoms of periodontitis are similar to those of gingivitis, but they are much more intense.  Signs that you may be suffering from periodontitis include:

  • Serious pain when chewing
  • Unrelenting bad breath
  • Constant bad taste in mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Teeth no longer “fit” together when you bite down
  • Excessively red and swollen gums
  • Gums pull away leaving large gaps from teeth
  • Extremely sensitive teeth
  • Pus oozing from gums

Further Health Risks Related to Gum Disease

Gum disease will not go away on its own.  Untreated, it’s likely to do serious damage to your smile and eventually result in the loss of teeth. Even more unsettling, gum disease has been linked as a possible cause for several medical complications, including:

  • Heart disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Strokes
  • Premature births
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Respiratory complications
  • Diabetes

Preventing Gum Disease

As you can see, gum disease is not pretty.  The good news, however, is that it is almost entirely preventable by the habits you choose.  And one of the best ways to prevent gum disease is to visit your dentist for regular checkups.  So why not contact Dr. Winter at Advanced Implant and Cosmetic Dentistry in Beverly Hills, Michigan today to schedule your checkup?  Someday your gums might just thank you for it.