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Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

Most of us are aware of the importance of brushing and flossing and maintaining our pearly whites in the best condition possible. However, most people don’t realize just how serious gum disease – also called gingivitis – can be and how damaging it can be to our physical health as well as our oral health. The best way to prevent the damage done by gingivitis is to learn all you can about this insidious disease.

What Is Meant by Gingivitis or Gum Disease?

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease and is characterized by oral bacteria that are not removed through brushing and flossing. It’s the primary cause of tooth loss in adults, but the good news is that it can be easily prevented through good oral hygiene habits.

Gum disease can encompass a wide range of dental issues, from minor bleeding when you brush and floss to losing all your teeth and your facial structure. In the early stage, gum disease is called gingivitis. It affects 75 percent of adults in America, but as few as 15 percent of them are aware that they have a problem with their teeth and gums. Statistically, more than 60 percent of teenagers who are 15 years or older have gum disease. Typically, the cause of gingivitis or gum disease is a lack of good oral hygiene, but about 30 percent of those who have gum disease have a genetic predisposition to the disease. Even if you’re genetically predisposed to the disease, you can dramatically reduce its impact on your oral health by adopting a regimen of good oral hygiene. This will help prevent the loss of your teeth as you age and minimize the adverse effects on your physical health.

Are There Common Causes of Gum Disease?

  • Although poor oral hygiene or infrequent good oral hygiene practices are the primary cause of gum disease, it can be exacerbated by age and lifestyle factors, such as:
  • Inadequate or insufficient brushing and flossing can allow plaque to form and build up and settle between the teeth and the gums. This is called tartar and must be removed by a dentist.
  • Hormone changes during monthly cycles, menopause, pregnancy, or puberty can make gums more sensitive and encourage the growth of bacteria.
  • Diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and HIV can adversely affect your gum health and increase the risk of infection, cavities, and periodontal disease.
  • Medications such as anti-anginas and anticonvulsants often have dry mouth as a side effect, which can encourage the proliferation of bacteria.
  • Poor lifestyle habits, such as the use of tobacco, can result in unhealthy gums and an increase in toxins that can damage your oral health.

Does Gingivitis or Gum Disease Adversely Impact My Health?

The bacteria in your mouth that contribute to the onset of gingivitis or gum disease can travel throughout the bloodstream to other parts of the body. Research has indicated a link between some physical disorders such as pulmonary disease and cardiac disease, and poor oral health. If you want to have good physical health, then you need to maintain good oral health.

What Are the Usual Symptoms of Gum Disease?

Gum disease will sometimes present asymptomatically, so you may be unaware that you have the disease until it’s been present for a long time, and there may be no pain associated with it. However, there are signs and symptoms of gum disease that will definitely indicate you should make an appointment with your dentist, such as:

  • Bleeding gums, often occurring during your oral hygiene routine
  • Bite changes or changes in the fit of your dentures
  • Persistent bad taste in your mouth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Inflamed gums
  • Irregular spacing between your teeth
  • Loosened teeth
  • Pockets between your teeth and gums
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Receding gums
  • Swollen or sensitive gums

If you notice any of these symptoms, then schedule an appointment with your dentist without delay. The issues won’t resolve on their own, they’ll need professional attention.

What Periodontal Disease Facts Should I Be Aware Of?

When gingivitis isn’t treated, it will develop into periodontal disease. If periodontal disease isn’t treated, it will develop into periodontitis and then advanced periodontitis. You’ll most likely lose all your teeth, your gums and jawbone will be destroyed, and you’ll lose your facial structure. This can all be prevented with a regimen of good, consistent oral hygiene practices.

There are several types of periodontitis, which are:

  • Chronic periodontitis is the most common and causes inflammation of the gums and the gradual loosening of the teeth.
  • Aggressive periodontitis is usually seen in otherwise healthy people. It progresses rapidly and causes destruction of the jawbone and erosion of the gum ligaments that secure the teeth in place.
  • Necrotizing periodontitis is usually seen in those who have compromised immune systems. It’s characterized by the death of the jawbone, gums, and periodontal ligaments.

It’s unfortunate that all these issues can be prevented by brushing and flossing your teeth, and yet, many people don’t do it regularly or properly. If you want to maintain a beautiful smile throughout your life, then start by adopting a program of good oral hygiene that includes regular dental checkups and cleanings.

Is It Possible to Prevent Gum Disease?

Aside from adopting a regimen of good oral hygiene that includes at least annual visits to your dentist, there are other ways to ensure a healthy mouth and prevent gum disease, such as:

  • Eat a healthy diet that’s low in processed carbohydrates and sugars.
  • Brush at least twice daily, especially just before bedtime. Be sure to use an ADA-approved toothpaste and toothbrush.
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash for at least 60 seconds each time you brush.
  • Floss at least once daily, especially just before bedtime.
  • If you can’t brush after every meal, make sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly with clear water.

Since gum disease can present asymptomatically, a lack of symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of gum disease, thus the need for regular checkups and cleanings. Some people are more prone to developing gum disease than others, so be sure to brush and floss with dedication if you are one of those.

Proper and sufficient dental care can make the difference between a lifetime of oral health and a beautiful smile, or a lifetime of dental disease and a mouth empty of your natural teeth. Call your dentist today to schedule a cleaning and an exam.

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