Nowadays, gum disease is extremely prevalent in our society. In fact, did you know that about half of Americans have some form of gum disease? Believe it or not, that many people are currently affected by gum disease. The fact of the matter is that America has a gum disease epidemic.
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, occurs when excess bacteria and plaque accumulate, causing an infection. There are two different forms of gum disease that exist. The first is probably one you have heard about from numerous toothpaste commercials. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease classified by inflamed gums that bleed in response to brushing or flossing. However, the teeth are still firmly in their sockets and the condition can be reversed with treatment.
Periodontitis, on the other hand, is an advanced form of gum disease that causes more serious symptoms. These can include: tender or swollen gums, gum recession, tooth sensitivity, pain while chewing, and loose teeth as a result of bone damage. Periodontitis cannot be reversed and will continue to progress if it is not managed with treatment. Gum disease can cause a variety of issues, including:
Advanced gum disease can cause the gums to recede, which can result in the tooth becoming loose. Additionally gum disease can slowly destroy the bone and surrounding supporting structures around the tooth. This can cause the teeth to eventually fall out or require extraction.
Since gum disease is an infection caused by the bacteria found in dental plaque, it can progress into an abscess if not treated. Abscesses are not only painful, but they can also cause the infection to spread. If the bacteria gets into the dental pulp, a root canal will need to be performed in order to save the tooth and prevent the spread of infection to the surrounding teeth.
For reasons that are not completely understood, there have been several studies that have linked gum disease to pregnancy complications. Specifically, gum disease has been associated with low birth rate and preeclampsia. Pregnant women are also at an increased risk of developing gum disease due to the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy.
Overall Health Concerns
When gum disease progresses so that it reaches the bloodstream, the infection can spread to various other places in the body. Even though the connection is not entirely understood, there have been studies confirming a correlation between gum disease and heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes. Gum disease and diabetes have been found to affect one another closely, and those with diabetes are at a higher risk for gum disease and vice versa.
As you can see, gum disease can have some pretty serious consequences. Although most people assume that gum disease is a minor dental issue that is not harmful, this is clearly not the case. Since gum disease is progressive, it is recommended to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent the condition from worsening. Are you included in the 50% of Americans with gum disease? Schedule a consultation with your local dental office to find out.
Dr. Dennis Laurich has been practicing dentistry for over 40 years. He received his DDS degree from the University of Michigan Dental School and regularly attends oral health care conventions to continue his dental education. This allows him to treat patients with the leading dental technology and methodologies. Additionally, he is a member of the American Dental Association, Michigan Dental Association, and the Detroit District Dental Society.