It seems like everytime I flipped through a dental journal I read about another study showing us the dangerous overall health effects of gum disease, often called periodontal disease. Several years ago, we dentists discovered that gum disease was linked to heart disease and diabetes. Then it was alzheimer’s. The list went on and on.
Most recently, researchers have been looking at a link between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis. The study found that patients with gum disease had high amounts of citrullinated proteins in their saliva. Those with rheumatoid arthritis have an immune response citrullinated proteins. There is no cause-and-effect relationship between these two diseases, at least not that we’ve found yet. But it’s interesting to see how widespread gum disease is.
Today I want to cover some of the problems you can face when you struggle with gum disease. We’ll also review a few ways you can resolve the problem before it balloons into something extremely serious.
Gum Disease is More About Red, Swollen Tissue
Gum disease is a widespread oral health issue that will affect more than 50 percent of Americans. That’s a huge number, and no one is immuned from gum disease, so you need to arm yourself with information.
The first signs of gum disease are swollen or bleeding gums, but it’s possible to have gum disease and show no physical signs. There are different levels of gum disease, with gingivitis being the most common. In its later stages, gum disease will become full-blown periodontics. Unfortunately, gingivitis is the only form of gum disease that is curable. If you have periodontitis, you’ll need dental care for the rest of your life. We recommend that patients with periodontal disease visit our office about once every three to four months for checkups.
Perhaps one of the scariest facts about gum disease is that is the leading cause of tooth loss. Most people assume that tooth decay is the leading cause of tooth loss, but it’s not. Gum disease can spread throughout the mouth quickly and with little warning. If left untreated, gum disease will destroy the gums and the bone surrounding the tooth’s socket. When the bone around the tooth is compromised, it’s highly possible that the tooth will begin to fail.
You Are Your Best Defense Against Gum Disease
Regular cleanings are a great time to check the state of your teeth and gums. We don’t just look at the health of the teeth; we also check your gums for signs of gum disease. Outside of the office, you can maintain great gum health by flossing regularly. Some people think that flossing is optional, but you cannot consider your mouth clean when you skip flossing.
Consider this ratio: About 35 to 40 percent of the tooth is beneath the gums. A toothbrush cannot reach those areas effectively. The only way to properly clean beneath the gums is with floss. Flossing will take maybe 30 seconds, but look at what you gain. You greatly reduce your risk of gum disease and the harmful overall health illnesses that rub elbows with gum disease.
We can help you monitor your teeth and gums. Call our office today at 504-264-6461 to visit our office.