Gum Disease Can Be Silent: Here’s How to Stay Ahead of It
We always hear about illnesses that suddenly rear their ugly head without warning. High blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and various cancers can all sneak up on us. And gum disease is yet another illness that can creep up on us while we are entirely unaware since it is painless until relatively advanced. Thankfully, for all of these illnesses, and especially gum disease, there are steps you can take to lessen your risks, if not avoid them altogether.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in their place. In most cases, gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky substance that contains bacteria that can harm your gums’ health. When that plaque and bacteria build up, it can irritate your gums, leading to redness with bleeding, soreness, and swelling.
How is gum disease the silent killer?
Okay, no one wants to hear the term, silent killer. But gum disease, when it advances to its more serious stages, can cause conditions that can be deadly. In those most severe stages, gum disease can damage your heart through a condition known as endocarditis. This condition is a deadly inflammation of the lining of your heart that comes on from a bacterial, fungal, or germ infection that spreads to the bloodstream from the mouth. Though the bacteria can come from other parts of your body, it often originates in the mouth, and ultimately, this process can shorten your lifespan.
Catching gum disease early before it turns into gingivitis is the best possible outcome. Once this disease has progressed into periodontal disease, it can damage the tissue that supports your teeth, contributing to future tooth loss and the previously mentioned health conditions.
Gum disease is considered a silent killer for a few reasons. First, patients often think that bleeding when flossing is normal; however, bleeding when flossing is not normal and suggests that you are not flossing enough. Further, lesser-known symptoms of gum disease, such as halitosis (bad breath) and a bad taste in your mouth, can be dismissed as something else. Finally, gum disease is painless until it reaches its more advanced stages, making patients think everything is fine.
Signs of Gum Disease
Be on the lookout for the first signs of periodontitis. Common symptoms of gingivitis or early periodontitis include:
- Light bleeding or tenderness while flossing or brushing your teeth.
- Redness or puffiness in your gums.
- Stubborn bad breath that just won’t go away.
If your gum disease has progressed to mild or moderate periodontitis, you may experience the following symptoms as well as the ones mentioned above.
- Pain in your gums.
- A toothache-like feeling along more than one tooth.
- Swelling in your gums.
- Receding gums.
- Strong halitosis.
If you’re experiencing all of these symptoms plus the following, you most likely have moderate to severe periodontitis:
- Loose or wiggly teeth.
- Pus that appears along your gum line.
Stay ahead of this disease before it sneaks up on you.
One of the best things you can do for your oral health is to avoid tooth decay and gum disease. Here are some top recommendations to keep your teeth and gums in great shape.
- Practice a good oral care routine at home. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Floss your teeth at least once per day to loosen food particles lodged between your teeth. And rinse after flossing with fluoridated mouthwash.
- Pay attention to your diet and eat tooth- and gum-healthy foods. A diet high in leafy greens, milk and yogurt, apples, nuts, lean meats, fatty fish like salmon, etc., will do not only your body good, but your mouth too.
- Understand how various medications can impact your oral health. Make sure your dentist knows of any medications you are taking so that they can provide recommendations to protect your teeth and gums.
- Request an appointment with your dentist in Greensboro, NC, if you think you’re experiencing the beginning stages of gum disease. Don’t wait until your next appointment. Remember that gingivitis is completely reversible but periodontitis is not.
Visit Farless Dental Group for preventive dentistry that can help you avoid gum disease.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms we mentioned here, or it has been a while since your last dental cleaning and oral evaluation, now is the time to request an appointment with Farless Dental Group. Together, we can build an oral care plan that will keep your teeth and gums healthy and help you prevent untreated gum disease’s harmful effects.