February 19, 2019
Do your gums ever bleed when you brush your teeth? Bleeding gums is often an early symptom of gum disease, which affects over half of Americans over the age of 30, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and has been linked to a wide range of serious health conditions and diseases. February is National Gum Disease Awareness Month, so what better time than now to learn more about this common disease and how to prevent it. A dentist in Norwood explains the important facts about gum disease below.
Why Do Gums Bleed?
Bleeding gums are caused by plaque, which contains bacteria that attacks healthy tissue around teeth. When plaque is not removed through daily cleaning, it can buildup on your teeth. The bacteria in plaque causes the gums to become inflamed and irritated and can lead to bleeding when brushing or flossing.
Is Gum Disease Serious?
Gum disease typically progresses through three main stages, with each stage having a greater negative impact on one’s oral health than the one before it. Here is the serious damage that can occur in each stage:
- Stage 1: Gingivitis – Gum inflammation and bleeding can usually be treated and reversed if caught early.
- Stage 2: Periodontitis – Irreversible damage to the bones and fibers that hold teeth in place occurs at this stage. Improved home care and professional dental treatment are necessary to prevent further damage.
- Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis – Actual bone loss can occur and tooth extraction may be recommended to prevent further infection. Teeth can also shift due to the loss of supporting bone, leading to bite problems.
Gum Disease’s Wider Impact
The negative impacts of gum disease do not stop at the mouth. Indeed, gum disease has been linked to a wide range of serious health conditions such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer.
In fact, just this year new research found that P. gingivalis, the main bacterium involved in gum disease, may invade and inflame the regions of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s. The scientists behind the report believe that inflammation caused by gum disease allows P. gingivalis to slip into the bloodstream and eventually reach the brain.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
Prevention is key to maintaining a healthy mouth. Here are some simple steps you can take to help prevent gum disease:
- Say No to Tobacco – Smoking and chewing tobacco is a major cause of gum disease.
- Practice Good Oral Hygiene – Brushing your teeth thoroughly twice a day and flossing can help remove harmful plaque.
- Visit Your Dentist – Make a trip to your dentist every six months for a routine exam and cleaning. Your dentist will be able to spot early signs of gum disease and expertly remove plaque and tartar buildup.
Dental health and overall health go hand-in-hand. Follow the tips above to keep your gums healthy and stay smiling long into your golden years!
About the Author
Dr. John T. Michaels has completed over 1000 hours of advanced education in dentistry, including in periodontics, the branch of dentistry focused on the gums and preventing gum disease. Dr. Michael’s years of experience and excellence led him to be named a Top Dentist by Boston Consumers’ Checkbook. Patients searching for a family dentist in Norwood can contact Dr. Michael’s via the Norwood Dental Care website or by calling 781-769-6140.
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