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Posted on: March 23, 2021
Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease
The Hallmarks of Gum Disease
We’ve all been told about the hazards of cavities and tooth decay, but there’s another common disease that people often overlook. Unknowingly, you may be developing a condition known as periodontal disease if your gums are swollen, red or bleed when brushed or flossed. Also called gum disease, this dental condition is a serious problem for about three out of four adults in America. Many of these people may not even be aware that they have gum disease. Learning as much as you can about this disease and how to prevent it can help ensure you are well protected against this harmful disease.
So, What Exactly Is Gum Disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by plaque, a substance produced by bacteria in your mouth as they break down food particles and sweet drinks. Plaque is acidic and can cause a breakdown in tooth enamel, which causes cavities and tooth decay. It can also cause inflammation and irritation of the gums. Eventually, the buildup of bacteria, debris and plaque cause the gum tissues to break down and attack the ligaments that hold your teeth in place.
Over 70 percent of adults in the United States have some form of gum disease, making it a very common problem. However, it’s not easy to address because only about 15 percent of people with the disease know they have it. Not knowing you have gingivitis or the early warning signs can be detrimental to your dental health as the disease progresses quickly. The good news is that gum disease, in the early stages, can be treated with a robust and proper dental hygiene routine.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. It often has no noticeable symptoms and can go undetected for a prolonged period of time. The first sign of trouble may be blood on your toothbrush or on your dental floss. If not treated during this early stage, the effects of gum disease may be irreversible.
Later stages of untreated gum disease often result in the loss of the attachments connecting the gums to the teeth and the teeth to the jawbone. This can cause you to lose otherwise healthy teeth and can make it harder for you to bite and chew your food. The gaps left by missing teeth can have a very poor impact on your overall self-image and self-confidence. Don’t let yourself look the other way when it comes to your dental health and gum disease.
Factors That Can Contribute to the Risk of Gum Disease
Now that you know what gum disease is, it’s important to understand how it happens. While the most common way people develop gum disease is through a lack of proper dental hygiene, there are many other risk factors and circumstances in which people get gingivitis. Some of the most important contributing causes to periodontal disease include the following activities and conditions:
- People with suppressed immune responses because of transplant procedures, medical issues and other problems often experience increased risks of gum disease and may have a greater chance of developing severe periodontitis.
- Smokers and those who chew tobacco are also at a higher risk of these issues. Tobacco use introduces a high number of harmful toxins into the body through the mouth. These toxins decrease the body’s ability to fight off infections.
- Poor dental hygiene is a very common factor in the development of gum disease. As stated before, failing to adhere to a regular and robust dental heath care routine can have damaging effects on your dental health.
- People who take medications for certain conditions may develop dry mouth, which can make it easier for bacteria to build up inside the mouth to cause periodontitis. Saliva is responsible for rinsing the mouth of a number of bacteria. When this doesn’t happen regularly because of dry mouth, that bacteria is allowed to attack the gums and teeth more frequently.
Common Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease moves silently in the very early stages, so it’s important to pay attention if you see something a little bit off. Seeking dental care as soon as possible when you spot any of the warning signs of periodontal disease will help you to prevent serious issues that could involve the loss of teeth and other systemic illnesses.
During its earliest stages, gum disease is referred to as gingivitis. This dental condition can produce the following symptoms:
- Red, swollen and inflamed gums
- Painful or sensitive soft tissues
- Bleeding of the gums
- The appearance of pockets of infection at the gumline
- Loosening of some teeth
- Gaps between teeth
- A strange feeling when biting down on food or bringing your teeth together
- The loss of permanent teeth
Other Facts About Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is usually what happens when gingivitis is left untreated. Generally, the gums start to pull away from the teeth forming pockets. Those pockets are ideal spaces for bacteria, debris and plaque. All of these things wreak havoc on the underlying structure of the gums, teeth and jawbone.
Plaque also causes chronic inflammation, leading to the teeth and bone ot degrade. When that happens you may lose your teeth or they will have to be pulled.
There are three types of periodontitis you can develop:
- Chronic periodontitis is by far the most common. It is characterized by inflammation of the gum and supporting tissues and the slow deterioration of the attachments of the teeth.
- Those with serious immune disorders may be prone to developing necrotizing periodontitis, which causes the death of the tissues in the gums and mouth. This condition is extremely serious and can cause life-threatening complications if not treated properly.
- Aggressive periodontitis usually affects healthy individuals and causes a rapid form of gum disease to cause damage to teeth, gums and interior structures of the jaw. The precise causes of this condition are not currently known.
Regular visits to your dentist can ensure that these conditions are identified quickly and that steps can be taken to reduce their impact on your health and your teeth.
Preventing Gum Disease
You can institute a dental hygiene regimen that will reduce a lot of the risk factors that lead to periodontal disease and chronic periodontitis. Most dentists recommend the following actions as good dental health practices in general. Some of our most common recommendations include the following:
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily.
- Floss your teeth at least once per day.
- Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after eating or drinking.
- Cut back on sugary snacks.
- Stop smoking or chewing tobacco.
To learn more about our range of options for preventing and treating gum disease, please call our office at (734) 329-5284.