It’s February, which means love is in the air and Gum Disease Awareness Month is on your dentist’s mind.
If you are an American adult over the age of thirty, there’s about a fifty percent chance that you have or have had periodontal disease of some form. If you are older than 65, that likelihood leaps to seventy percent. It’s really not an exaggeration to say that there is an epidemic of gum problems in the United States.
And, as is increasingly confirmed by research, healthy gums are correlated with a healthy body. To keep your gum tissue in the best shape possible, it’s essential to practice good oral hygiene and visit Highland Advanced Dental Care for a cleaning and exam every six months. Call our Highland Township, MI office at 248-329-3552 to schedule an appointment.
Early Detection is Crucial
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gum tissue. Bacteria get underneath the gumline, causing inflammation and other problems.
The condition is divided into two primary types, but they are actually two stages of the same disease. As with many dental issues, the earlier the problem is detected, the easier it is to reverse.
In its earliest stages, periodontal disease is called gingivitis. This is generally quite easy to treat. A professional cleaning by one of our top-notch hygienists followed up by meticulous brushing and flossing at home may be all it takes to restore your mouth to health. Unfortunately, gingivitis is sneaky. You may already have it but not be aware of it because no obvious symptoms are present. This is one of many reason why twice-yearly dental checkups — even when your mouth feels healthy — are so important.
If gingivitis isn’t treated and is allowed to progress, it will turn into late-stage disease, which is called periodontitis. The consequences of this form of the disease can be serious: pain, gum recession, tooth loss. The infection may spread beyond your mouth and wreak havoc throughout your body.
Periodontitis and Your Body
Much research has been done on the connection between gum problems and systemic health issues. And one thing is clear: unchecked periodontitis is dangerous for your overall well-being.
Studies have shown that periodontal disease may increase your chances of developing heart disease (the nation’s leading cause of death for men and women). It may also worsen existing cardiovascular problems. Bacteria from your mouth can escape into the bloodstream and cause inflammation and hardening of the arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis. This disrupts blood flow to your heart and puts you at risk for heart attacks and stroke.
It’s long been known that there is a connection between diabetes and gum health. Having diabetes is one of the leading risk factors for developing periodontal problems — likely because the disease lowers your resistance to infections in general. And periodontal disease appears to make it more difficult for diabetics to keep their blood sugar under control, which puts them in danger of developing complications.
Research into the systemic health repercussions of infected gums continues, with studies showing links to osteoporosis, respiratory disease, and some types of cancer.
Know Your Symptoms
Symptoms will vary from person to person, and you may not notice any at all, especially in early-stage gingivitis. But if you experience any combination of the following, get in to see us at Highland Advanced Dental Care.
- Gums that are swollen, tender, and discolored.
- Gums that bleed when you try to clean them.
- Gums that pull away from the teeth.
- Teeth that appear longer than before.
- Teeth that are loose or fall out.
- Bad breath that won’t go away.
- A change in your bite, or how your upper and lower teeth fit together.
We Have Periodontal Solutions
If you come to Highland Advanced Dental Care because you believe you may have gum disease — or we happen to detect it during a routine cleaning — we will help restore your oral health.
If you have mild gingivitis, we may just give you a good cleaning and advise you on proper brushing and flossing at home.
For more advanced disease, we may recommend scaling and root planing. This is a deep-cleaning technique, performed under local anesthesia, that removes plaque and tartar from under the gumline and smooths the tooth roots, which makes them resistant to reinfection. We also offer an antibacterial treatment called Perio Protect. This is a medicinal gel that you wear in mouthguard-like trays for a few minutes each day.