Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) can be a serious issue. Left untreated, it can cause your gums to bleed, your teeth to feel loose, and in extreme cases, your teeth to fall out. But for such an important issue, there are a lot of myths surrounding it. Here are seven myths about gum disease—and one very important truth you need to know.

1. Myth: Gums Are Supposed To Bleed. Some people think that a little blood after brushing and flossing is normal. It’s true that, in some rare cases, you could brush or floss so aggressively that you could cause your gums to bleed a little. But that is rare. If you normally see some blood when you spit out your toothpaste, that is probably a sign that you have gum disease. This is also true during pregnancy. While gingivitis (the early form of gum disease) during pregnancy is not unheard of, any bleeding of the gums should be treated with caution.

2. Myth: You only get gum disease if you neglect your teeth. If you get cavities because you don’t take care of your teeth, then you must get gum disease for the same reason, right? That’s only partially true. Neglecting your oral hygiene can definitely lead to gum disease, which is why you should visit our Highland, MI office every six months for a dental cleaning and thorough exam. Harmful bacteria in your mouth can create plaque and tartar, which can irritate your gums and lead to gum disease. But unfortunately, there are other factors that can lead to the disease. Smoking and other tobacco use increases your chances of gum disease, as does prolonged stress and a poor diet. Even genetics can play a part. This means that, even if you are perfect in your dental care at home, you still need to worry about gum disease.

3. Myth: Bad breath automatically means gum disease. It’s true that gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, often leads to bad breath. And if you constantly have a weird taste in your mouth or bad breath, you could very well have gum disease. But there are many things that can cause bad breath, such as the food you eat or not brushing regularly.

4. Myth: Very few people actually get gum disease. If gum disease was that common, wouldn’t you hear more about it? Wouldn’t it be in the news or something? Unfortunately, that is not the case. According to the CDC, roughly half of adults 30 years and older have some form of the disease. The problem is that, while bleeding is a big clue that you have gum disease, you can have it without having any symptoms at all. Plus, we rarely pay close attention to our gums. They could be a bit tender, swollen, or red without us noticing.

5. Myth: Gum disease doesn’t affect your health. Some people think that gum disease affects only the gums, so having this condition isn’t that big of a deal. Unfortunately, gum disease can be a serious infection that threatens the health of your whole body. Remember that your body is one giant system, and that your gums are a part of it. When bacteria infects your gums, it can spread into your bloodstream and affect other parts of you. In fact, studies have linked gum disease to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, arthritis, and even premature birth. While gum disease probably doesn’t cause these — the chance of you suddenly getting diabetes when you get gum disease is low — it can cause inflammation throughout your body, which can trigger these problems into manifesting or getting much worse.

6. Myth: Gum disease will go away with enough brushing and flossing. Since gum disease can happen because of neglect, you can get rid of it by doing the opposite, right? Sadly, it’s not that simple. Brushing and flossing are vital to preventing gum disease from getting worse, but doing so aggressively can damage your gums and make it easier for the bacteria to infect it.

And here’s the important truth you need to be aware of: If left untreated, gum disease can become permanent. Gum disease starts as a condition called gingivitis. This is when bacteria are irritating your gums but have not gotten below the gumline. But when gingivitis is not treated, the bacteria can get inside your gums and spread. Once this happens, the bacteria cannot be removed. There are things we can do at our Highland, MI dental office to keep the disease in check, but there is no cure.

That’s why prevention is so important. If you think you might have gum disease, call us today at 248-329-3552 and schedule an appointment with Dr. LoCascio.