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Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

Understanding the Dangers of Gum Disease

Far more often you hear about the negative effects of cavities and tooth decay, not gum disease. Unfortunately, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the United States, and over 75 percent of adults have some form of the disease! So, why aren’t we talking about gum disease? Well, many people don’t even know they have it due to its slow progression and lack of severe warning signs. The best way to ensure you avoid gum disease and all of its negative effects is to learn all you can about the disease.

The Consequences of Gum Disease on Your Health

Gum disease is also called periodontal disease. This dental condition is caused by plaque, a substance that is produced by bacteria in the mouth during the breakdown of sugars and starches that remain on teeth and gums after eating or drinking. Plaque is a contributing factor in cavities and can cause serious irritation to the gums, which is the first step in developing gum disease. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontitis and usually manifests itself through bleeding gums, irritation of gum tissue and redness in these areas.

Over time, gum disease can cause severe damage to the structural elements of the jaw, teeth and gums. This can result in the loss of teeth and reduced stability for the teeth that remain. Proper treatment is required to prevent these consequences. If you haven’t been thinking about gum disease, you aren’t alone. Only 15 percent of the people that have gum disease actually know they have it, making treatment very difficult. Most adults can stop gingivitis or gum disease from happening, but it requires a strong and consistent dental healthcare routine.

Unfortunately, the impacts of gum disease aren’t limited to your mouth, there are plenty of occasions when the inflammation spreads beyond the mouth and creates problems in other parts of the body. Based on this, and it’s destructive nature, it’s best to keep reading to learn more about this disease.

The Primary Causes of Periodontal Disease

Many patients ask us about the underlying causes for gum disease. While no one answer is true for all of our patients, there are a number of contributing factors that can play a role in the development of periodontal disease:

  • Genetic factors may play a role in about 30 percent of the population that develops gum disease. For these people, it’s especially important to regularly visit with a dentist.
  • Poor dental hygiene, including a failure to brush or floss properly, also plays a role in the development of gum disease for many patients. In fact, this is generally why people develop gingivitis in the first place. Never underestimate the power of a good dental hygiene routine!
  • People with suppressed or damaged immune systems are also at much higher risk of developing periodontitis. This includes people with cancer, HIV and diabetes, to name a few.
  • Dry mouth, which can be caused by some medications or may be the result of a genetic predisposition, is a factor in some cases of gum disease. With dry mouth, you don’t have enough saliva to wash away the bacteria in your mouth, leaving extra bacteria to attack the gums and teeth.
  • The use of tobacco in smoked or chewed form is also a predisposing factor for gum disease because of the toxins it introduces into the body.
  • Changes in hormones can also increase the risk of gum disease because it makes the gums more sensitive, and thus, more vulnerable to the development of gum disease.

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?

Many cases of gingivitis do not produce any symptoms at all, which makes it especially important for everyone to visit the dentist regularly. The first signs of trouble may be spots of blood on the toothbrush or dental floss after brushing or flossing. This could indicate that the gum tissue has been weakened by the presence of bacteria and plaque.

Other symptoms reported by different patients include the following:

  • A feeling of looseness in the teeth
  • Halitosis, also known as bad breath
  • Odd or unpleasant tastes in the mouth
  • Visible pockets of pus around the teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Redness or sensitivity of the gums

If you or anyone else in your family is currently experiencing these symptoms, it is a good idea to plan a visit to consult with your dentist.

What You Need to Know About Severe Forms of Periodontitis

Most patients that let gingivitis progress will develop what is called periodontitis. This is what it is called when the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets where bacteria starts to collect. When this happens the gums start to wear down and the teeth become unstable. At this moment, plaque starts to enter under the gums and causes even more irritation, infection and inflammation.

Unfortunately, when you’ve arrived at this point, there is no turning back. You’ll have to work with your dentist to determine the best course of action for replacing your teeth.

There are other forms of periodontitis and they include the following conditions:

  • Necrotizing periodontitis is a dangerous condition that primarily affects people with severe immunodeficiency issues. It causes the death of the tissues and ligaments inside the gums.
  • Aggressive periodontitis is similar to chronic gum disease except in the speed with which it breaks down gum tissue and damages bones in the jaw. It usually affects people who are otherwise in good dental and physical health.
  • Chronic periodontitis is what most people have and it leads to the slow deterioration of the ligaments holding the teeth to the gums and jawbone and the continued swelling of the gums.
    Preventing Gum Disease

Getting gum disease is not an assured thing, and there are very effective ways of preventing the disease. Generally, dental professionals recommend a strong dental hygiene routine and if you have a genetic predisposition to the disease, see your dentist regularly. Some of the general guidelines for preventing gum disease include the following:

  • Brush and floss at least twice per day. Choose an ADA-approved toothpaste to help remove all of the bacteria that builds up in your mouth.
  • Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after eating or drinking sugary items. This can also be an effective practice for when you don’t have access to a toothbrush.
  • Make regular appointments with our team of dental professionals to check the condition of your teeth and gums and to receive dental cleaning.

Protect Your Dental Health from the Damaging Effects of Gum Disease

Our team of dentists will be happy to help you find the perfect solutions for your dental issues, reach out to schedule an appointment today.

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