No one celebrates gum disease, but at Natural Smiles in Louisville, KY, we think that National Gum Disease Awareness Month is worth supporting.
Gum disease is something that most people will experience at some point in their lives. That’s a shame, because gum disease is a largely avoidable condition that’s behind the vast majority of dental problems including cavities and tooth loss.
Not only that, but research has linked chronic gum disease to a host of general medical problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Lung problems
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Colorectal cancer
- Kidney, pancreatic and blood cancers in men
Research is discovering that gum disease is linked to more and more health issues. Taking great care of your gums is about much more than having a great smile.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Our mouths have entire colonies of bacteria living in them. This is normal and natural. Some of those bacteria, though, can combine with a protein in our saliva to form a sticky, invisible film called dental plaque.
Plaque accumulates on the gum line around the teeth and holds bacteria in close contact with the teeth and gums. Normally, our saliva and the beverages we drink wash bacteria off those surfaces.
The bacteria in plaque secrete toxins that begin to erode tooth enamel and cause the gums to become irritated. The early signs of gum disease, also known as gingivitis, are:
- Dusky red or purple gums instead of pink
- Puffy, swollen gums
- Gums bleeding when you brush or floss
- Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
- Gums recede (pull away) from the teeth
Fortunately, regular and thorough brushing and flossing will remove plaque from around the teeth. With good oral hygiene, the vast majority of people can avoid developing gum disease.
Plaque begins to re-form with 24 hours after brushing and flossing, so daily care is essential. And, because there are nooks and crannies in the mouth that are difficult to reach, regular dental cleanings and exams are needed. Your dental hygienist and Dr. Gill will ensure that every trace of plaque is removed and will address any potential problem areas.
Advanced Gum Disease
If plaque is left undisturbed, it can harden into something called dental calculus, or tartar. Tartar is harder than your tooth enamel, and you can’t remove it by brushing and flossing.
Tartar accelerates the process of gum inflammation and tooth decay. The gums recede even further, and pockets of pus can form below the gum line. Teeth can be lost.
This stage of gum disease is called periodontitis. If not treated, infectious bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause serious medical problems.
Don’t Let Gum Disease Win
Natural Smiles in Louisville, KY offers expert, gentle, and thorough dental cleanings. We also offer treatment for the early and advanced stages of gum disease.
Call our office today at 502-785-8695 to schedule a cleaning and examination.
With good oral hygiene and regular checkups, you can keep your teeth for a lifetime and avoid many significant health problems.