Century Dental, Century Dental East, and Seaview Dental in New Jersey are committed to educating our patients about their oral health. This topic isn’t always fun, but it is important so you can better understand what is happening with your teeth and gums, as well as know how to best take care of them.
In today’s blog, we will be discussing gum disease, a condition that affects nearly half of American adults over the age of 30. You might be thinking, “Well, if half of the population has it, how bad can it be?” Gum disease, which includes gingivitis and periodontitis, occurs when there is an infection of the gum lines. Gingivitis, the mildest form of the disease, is treatable and even reversible if caught early enough. Periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, occurs when gingivitis is not addressed.
Periodontitis is serious and requires attention. It is caused by plaque that spreads below the gum line, where bacteria in the plaque then begin to irritate the gums. The gums become inflamed, and like other infections elsewhere in the body, the body turns on the infection to attempt to rid the body of it. Unfortunately, this results in the breakdown of gum tissue and bone that support the teeth. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may need to be removed.
In many cases, gingivitis and periodontitis can be prevented with proper oral hygiene and regular trips to the dentist’s office.
Risk Factors For Periodontitis
There are a couple of factors that make you more likely to experience gum disease. A lot of it can be addressed to make your risk of gum disease less likely, but some risk factors are unavoidable, the biggest of which is age. Seven in ten adults over the age of 65 have some form of gum disease. Another risk factor that is out of your control is genetics. Some people are simply predisposed to be more susceptible to periodontitis, even when they take excellent care of their teeth. However, these people can still work with their dental clinic to prevent and treat gum disease early. Keep reading to learn about other risk factors for periodontal disease.
- Smoking Or Chewing Tobacco: Tobacco users are at an increased risk for developing gum disease, and research has shown that regularly smoking or chewing tobacco might be the most significant preventable risk factor.
- Poor Nutrition: If a person is not getting the nutrients that they need through their diet, their body may be less able to fight off infections in and around the gums, resulting in a greater risk for gum disease.
- Diabetes: Diabetes can decrease a person’s ability to fight off infections, increasing the likelihood of developing periodontitis.
- Chronic Or Severe Illness: Any sort of chronic health condition or severe illness can decrease the body’s ability to fight off infection. These can include diabetes as we mentioned above, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis, among others.
- Pregnancy: While many expecting mothers are busy trying to stay healthy for their growing baby, they also need to be aware of their own oral health. Pregnancy gingivitis, which is gum disease developed during pregnancy, can be caused by fluctuating hormones and an increased inflammatory response. Be sure to visit your dentist during and after your pregnancy for gum disease examinations.
- Medications: Some medications, including oral contraceptives, steroids, antidepressants, chemotherapy medicines, and heart medications can increase your risk of gum disease. Be sure to let our staff know if you are taking any medications when you visit our dental clinic.
- Bad Oral Hygiene: Because periodontitis is caused by plaque buildup and bacteria, taking good care of your teeth (including brushing, flossing, swishing with mouthwash, and visiting your dentist twice a year) can significantly reduce your risk of developing gum disease.
Warning Signs Of Gum Disease
The best way to know if you have gum disease is to schedule an appointment at one of our three dental offices. Think of gum disease like a roller coaster. You spend a lot of time going up, up, up, and before you know it, you’re plummeting down a big drop. Periodontitis is the same way. It often develops slowly over a period of time, and then makes itself known and progresses quickly. Our goal is to catch it before it gets to the top of the roller coaster where we should still be able to take action and save your teeth. We encourage you to schedule an appointment for an examination and teeth cleaning regardless of whether or not you have any of the following symptoms, as these usually do not occur until the advanced stages.
- Receding gum lines
- Bleeding when flossing or brushing
- Swollen, inflamed, or tender gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth or changes to how teeth fit together
- Changes in the way your dentures fit
- Mouth sores, especially those that do not seem to heal
Get Examined For Gum Disease
Periodontal examinations are certainly something that needs to happen sooner rather than later, especially if you have any of the risk factors above. We have three conveniently located dental clinics — our dentist office in Eatontown, Seaview Dental; Century Dental, our Jackson dentist’s clinic; and our Pine Beach dentists at Century Dental East. Our clinics have varying hours, and some of them are open on Saturdays for your convenience. With so many options, what is stopping you from scheduling an appointment? Get in touch with our dentists today!