According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), an estimated 75 percent of the American population suffers from some form of gum disease, from minor cases of gingivitis to the more severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Despite this prevalence, only three percent seek treatment for their case of gum disease.
It is possible that many patients fail to seek the necessary periodontal care because they are not aware of the potentially dangerous and long-term implications of untreated gum disease.
In its early stages, periodontal disease can be managed and even reversed with proper treatment and oral hygiene practices. However, if left untreated or uncontrolled, periodontal disease can progress to more advanced stages, causing irreversible damage to the teeth and supporting structures, and eventually leading to tooth loss.
The following are some facts about gum disease to help you get on track with your oral health:
What does gum disease look like?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, can have different stages and symptoms. In its early stage, called gingivitis, gums may appear red, swollen, and tender. They may bleed easily during brushing or flossing. As the disease progresses, the gums may pull away from the teeth, forming pockets that can become infected.
The infection can lead to bone and tissue loss, which can cause the teeth to shift, become loose, or fall out. In advanced stages, gum disease can also cause bad breath, changes in the way teeth fit together when biting or chewing, and changes in the alignment of teeth. It’s important to see a dentist if you notice any signs of gum disease.
Facts about gum disease
Gum disease is very common
Both the American Academy of Periodontology and the CDC claim that nearly 50 percent of adults above 30 years suffer from some form of gum disease. Among adults over the age of 65, the percentage increases to 70.1%. Gum disease is more common among men than women, and the risk of developing the condition increases with age.
However, gum disease can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender, and it is important to maintain good oral hygiene habits and seek professional dental care to prevent and treat the condition.
Risk factors of gum disease
Gum disease can affect anyone regardless of age or gender. However, there are certain factors that can increase the risk of developing gum disease. Some of the most common risk factors for gum disease include poor oral hygiene, smoking or using tobacco products, genetics, certain medications, hormonal changes, poor nutrition, and certain health conditions such as diabetes.
Additionally, people who have crowded or misaligned teeth, bridges or dental implants, or who grind their teeth are also at increased risk of developing gum disease. It is important to maintain good oral hygiene practices, avoid tobacco use, eat a healthy diet, and visit the dentist regularly to prevent and treat gum disease.
Seniors and pregnant women are at greater risk of gum disease
While gum disease is more common in seniors, it can affect anyone, including teens and young adults alike. It is caused by the buildup of dental plaque due to poor oral hygiene, though seniors dealing with natural wear and tear on teeth and receding gums are at higher risk. Other factors that make seniors more prone to gum disease include dry mouth, smoking, certain medications, and some medical conditions such as diabetes or arthritis.
On the other hand, hormonal changes in the body that occur during pregnancy can cause the gums to become more sensitive and more likely to develop gingivitis. This condition is also known as pregnancy gingivitis.
Both pregnant women and seniors may also have difficulty maintaining good oral hygiene, which can contribute to the development and progression of gum disease. Pregnant women may experience nausea and vomiting, which can make it difficult to brush and floss regularly, while seniors may have difficulty holding a toothbrush or flossing due to arthritis or other physical limitations.
Gum disease can affect your overall health
In severe cases of periodontal disease, bacteria in the mouth can spread to other parts of your body causing conditions like stroke and heart disease. Periodontal disease also makes it harder for diabetes patients to manage their blood sugar levels, plus it poses a threat to people with osteoporosis or respiratory diseases.
I have periodontal disease now what?
If you suspect that you have gum disease, and have been diagnosed with it, the first step is to initiate treatment from a dental professional. The treatment plan will depend on the severity of the disease and may include: deep cleaning (scaling and root planing), medication, and/or surgery. You may also try new treatments to try and reverse periodontal disease depending on your doctor’s recommendations, such as
In addition to professional treatment, there are several things you can do at home to manage the disease and prevent further progression, including:
- Brushing and flossing regularly to prevent plaque and bacteria buildup
- Using an antiseptic mouthwash to kill bacteria and freshen breath.
- Quitting smoking or using tobacco products, as they can worsen the disease.
- Eating a healthy diet that is low in sugar and processed foods.
- Managing any underlying health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease that may contribute to the disease.
Maintain regular dental check-ups and cleanings to monitor the disease and ensure that it is properly managed. With proper treatment and self-care, it is possible to slow or even stop the progression of periodontal disease and prevent further damage to your gums and teeth.
How long can you keep your teeth with periodontal disease?
The length of time one can keep their teeth with periodontal disease depends on the severity and progression of the disease. Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the gums and bone that support the teeth. In its early stages, periodontal disease can be managed and even reversed with proper treatment and oral hygiene practices. However, if left untreated or uncontrolled, periodontal disease can progress to more advanced stages, causing irreversible damage to the teeth and supporting structures, and eventually leading to tooth loss.
The rate of progression of periodontal disease varies widely among individuals and can be influenced by factors such as age, genetics, overall health, oral hygiene practices, and other medical conditions. With appropriate management and care, some individuals may be able to keep their teeth for a lifetime, even with periodontal disease. However, in more severe cases, tooth loss can occur in a matter of months or years.
Gum disease is a serious concern, and people should be more willing to visit a periodontist to get the condition under control.
Regular dental checkups and professional cleanings, along with good oral hygiene practices at home, are essential for the prevention and management of periodontal disease.
Early detection and treatment of the disease can help to slow or stop its progression, and may improve the chances of keeping your teeth for a longer period. Even cases of bad breath or bleeding gums during pregnancy should not be taken lightly, as they could be signs of more serious oral concerns.