Gum disease is common in the US. About half of all adults have moderate or severe gum disease. It’s also the most common cause of tooth loss among adults in the US. Gum disease has effects outside the mouth, as it causes chronic systemic inflammation that can contribute to serious illnesses in the body like: heart problems, diabetes, and even cancer. Treating gum disease can help save your teeth, reduce your risk of serious health problems, and even save you money.

What Is Gum Disease?

Our mouths are filled with bacteria, some of which is harmless, but some is harmful. Harmful bacteria can attack our teeth, causing cavities. It can also establish colonies between our teeth and gums, which is what we call gum disease.

Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Red gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Receding gums
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Food stuck in teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Painful eating

Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of gum disease get shrugged off or ignored. If you have had gum disease for a long time, you may not know that your gums are redder than they should be. You might also think that bleeding gums is normal.

It’s important to understand that your teeth don’t keep growing throughout your life, so if your teeth seem to be getting longer, it’s because your gums are receding.

Many people try to ignore bad breath, but it should be taken seriously: persistent bad breath is often related to oral infections like gum disease or an infected tooth.

By the time people notice loose teeth, gum disease is significantly advanced and teeth are at risk. There may also be significant systemic problems influenced by gum disease.

Minor gum disease is called gingivitis. You’ll notice red, swollen, and sometimes bleeding gums. More serious gum disease is called periodontitis. In the past, we believed that poor hygiene was primarily what caused gingivitis to advance to periodontitis, but now we believe it’s more likely related to genetic risk and particular types of bacteria.

Gum Disease Treatment New City

Gum disease treatment can take many forms. For minor gum disease, we might just recommend changes in oral hygiene, and maybe more regular checkups. We may prescribe special rinses, toothpastes, or other treatments.

For more serious forms of gum disease, root scaling and planing may be used. In this procedure, your gums are moved aside so deposits and bacteria under the gum line can be removed. Then the tooth roots are smoothed to facilitate gum reattachment and make it harder for bacteria to hold on. Then the gums are put back in place, sometimes with sutures.

For more serious gum disease, surgery may be required.

How Gum Disease Affects your Overall Health

Gum disease doesn’t just threaten your mouth. It can significantly affect health throughout your body.

Bacteria from gum disease can enter your bloodstream and travel to your heart. It may cause heart infections, and contribute to the accumulation of plaque in the arteries. This plaque can break off and cause stroke. Oral bacteria can be inhaled to your lungs where it plays a role in pneumonia.

Gum disease is a chronic infection that leads to chronic systemic inflammation. Gum disease has been linked to autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis, where your immune system attacks your joints.

Chronic inflammation may also be the link between gum disease and cancer. Gum disease has been linked to breast cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, and colorectal cancer. In addition to inflammation, gum disease may promote cancer by deactivating the immune system mechanism that detects cancer cells.

The flip side of this is that gum disease treatment has the potential to make a positive difference in your overall health. Studies have shown that gum disease treatment can reduce health expenses related to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and pregnancy complications.