As dentists, it's important for us that our patients understand why gum disease is such a serious issue. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth. It's caused by a buildup of bacteria on your teeth and gums.


The beginning of gum disease is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which is a more severe form of gum disease. 


Periodontitis occurs when the bacteria that cause gingivitis spread below the gum line and begin to attack the tissues and bone that support the teeth. As the bacteria continue to grow and multiply, they can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets that become infected. Over time, the infection can destroy the bone and tissues that hold the teeth in place, leading to tooth loss and other oral health problems. Symptoms of periodontitis can include bleeding gums, bad breath, loose teeth, and a receding gum line.


In the middle stages of gum disease, the bacteria begin to destroy the bone and tissues that hold your teeth in place. This can lead to tooth loss, which can be painful and expensive to replace.


But the dangers of gum disease don't stop there. Studies have shown that gum disease is linked to other serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even some types of cancer. 


One of the most significant health risks associated with gum disease is heart disease. Studies have found that people with gum disease are twice as likely to develop heart disease as those without it. This is because the bacteria from gum disease can travel to the heart and cause inflammation in the blood vessels, which can lead to blockages and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.


Gum disease has also been linked to an increased risk of stroke. One study found that people with severe gum disease had a 4.3 times higher risk of having a stroke than those without gum disease. This is because the bacteria can also travel to the brain, where they can cause inflammation and damage to blood vessels.


Diabetes is another health problem that is linked to gum disease. People with diabetes are more likely to develop gum disease, and gum disease can make it harder to control blood sugar levels. This can lead to complications such as nerve damage, kidney disease, and vision problems.


Finally, some types of cancer have been linked to gum disease. One study found that men with gum disease were 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, and another study found that women with gum disease were 14% more likely to develop breast cancer.


It's important to note that gum disease is preventable. The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice good oral hygiene habits. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, and using an antimicrobial mouthwash. It's also important to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.


If you already have gum disease, it's important to seek treatment as soon as possible. The earlier gum disease is detected, the easier it is to treat. Treatment for gum disease may include scaling and root planing, which is a deep cleaning of the teeth and gums, or even surgery in severe cases.


In conclusion, gum disease is a serious issue that can lead to tooth loss and other health problems. But the good news is that it's preventable and treatable. By practicing good oral hygiene habits and visiting your dentist regularly, you can help prevent gum disease and keep your teeth and body healthy.

Are you ready to tackle your gum disease? Schedule an appointment today!