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Posted on: March 23, 2021
Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease
Understanding the underlying reasons why you may develop gum disease and learning tips to prevent its spread can help you avoid this progressive and painful disease. Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease affects about three out of four American adults. This serious dental condition can lead to the loss of teeth due to the breakdown of ligaments and tissues inside the gums and jaw. By learning more about gum disease, the different stages, warning signs and symptoms, and how to prevent it, you can set yourself up for dental success!
Gum Disease and Your Health
Gum disease often begins with gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums and the tissues of the mouth. Bacteria that live on the food debris in your mouth produce a substance called plaque. This sticky film adheres to your teeth and attacks the enamel and, in cases of gingivitis and gum disease, the tissue of your gums. Over time, this can result in cavities and in the weakening of the structures of your gums and your jaw.
While a relatively common problem in the United States, over 75 percent of adults and over 60 percent of teenagers have some form of gum disease. The shocking part is that only 15 percent actually know they have the disease. Lack of clear information or sufficient support from a dental care professional can make it difficult to diagnose.
In order to protect your smile and preserve your natural teeth, you have to continue to follow a consistent and robust dental care routine. Far too many people neglect their dental care and the results can be damaging and expensive to treat. Regular dental care can ensure that you don’t fall victim to the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
What Causes Gum Disease?
The causes of gum disease are varied and depend on your age and risk factors. Poor dental hygiene habits are often most commonly associated with this issue. Genetics may also play a role in the development of periodontal disease in some patients. In fact, about 30 percent of patients suffering from gum disease have a genetic predisposition to the disease.
Other risk factors include the following:
- Poor lifestyle choices: The frequent and consistent consumption of tobacco will negatively impact your health. Tobacco, both in smoked and in chewed form, introduces toxins to the body, disabling the body’s natural ability to fight off disease.
- Illnesses and immunodeficiency conditions: Cancer, HIV and other diseases can lower the body’s ability to fight off infections, making it easier to develop cavities and gum disease.
- Medications: One of the side effects of some medications is dry mouth. This reduces the ability of saliva to wash away bacteria from the teeth and gums.
- Hormones: During pregnancy, menopause, puberty and more, women experience fluctuations in hormones that make the gums more sensitive and can lead to gum disease.
- Dental care avoidance: One of the largest contributing factors to developing gum disease is a neglect of your dental healthcare routine because you are not regularly removing the bacteria from your mouth.
What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?
It’s important to note that a lot of cases of gingivitis present asymptomatically or with little intensity in the initial stages. However, there are signs that you can look out for and let your dentist know about. Some of the most commonly reported symptoms of gum disease include the following warning signs:
- Redness or swelling of the gums where they attach to the teeth
- Bleeding of the gums
- Sensitivity or irritation of the gums or teeth
- Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Swollen pockets of infection just under the gums along the gumline
- Loose teeth or expanding gaps between the teeth
- Changes in the way your teeth feel or look
Understanding the Most Critical Pieces of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is the progression of untreated gingivitis. At this point the gums start to pull away from the teeth creating pockets. Those pockets are breeding ground for bacteria and allow plaque to enter beneath the gum line, causing further inflammation and infection. When this is not treated, the underlying bone and ligaments begin to deteriorate and the teeth and gums separate even further, leaving you toothless in many cases.
It’s in your best interests to treat gingivitis promptly so that periodontitis can be avoided. There are several types of periodontitis that you can develop that include the following:
- Necrotizing periodontitis is a risk mostly confined to people with severely compromised immune systems. In these patients, the destructive effects of plaque and inflammation can result in tissue death that can affect ligaments, bone and gum tissue.
- Aggressive periodontitis moves much more quickly than the more common forms of this disease. It usually affects people who are generally in good health and can cause loosening of the teeth and loss of bone density in the jaw in a relatively short period of time.
- Most patients with gum disease suffer from chronic periodontitis, which results in the inflammation of gum tissues and a fairly slow rate of progress for the disease.
Preventing Issues With Periodontal Disease
Regular appointments with a trusted dentist is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family in preventing the progress of gum disease. We can spot the early signs of gingivitis and can create a treatment regimen that will address these problems effectively. Other strategies for addressing gingivitis and periodontal disease include the following:
- Brushing and flossing after every meal or sugary snack.
- Rinsing your mouth with water or with a dentist-recommended mouthwash when brushing is not practical.
- Reducing the overall number of sweets and starches you eat and drink.
These simple steps can help you to manage your dental health and can reduce your risk of developing a serious stage of periodontal disease. In nearly all cases, brushing and flossing regularly and scheduling regular visits with the dentist can help you and your family avoid the dangers of advanced gum disease.