Periodontitis, also known as gum disease, affects about 10% of the global population. While it's not as prevalent as tooth decay, which is known as the most common health condition in the world, gum disease is just as serious. Infected gums can cause symptoms like bad breath, painful chewing, sensitive teeth, and the presence of blood when you brush your teeth. If left unchecked, periodontitis can lead to various complications.
Here's a closer look into why gum health should be your top priority.
Characteristics of Gum Disease
Your gums are connective tissue connected to your bones and teeth. This gets infected when plaque, a white sticky film filled with bacteria, builds up and stiffens. You may see this buildup as "tartar" or a hardened, yellowish substance that you can't seem to remove during normal brushing.
An early stage of full-on gum disease is gingivitis. The gingiva is the part of your gum that surrounds your teeth. A tell-tale sign of this disease is swollen and dark red gums, which may also bleed when brushed.
If your gingivitis gets left unchecked, it can advance to a more serious disease known as periodontitis. This infection damages the gum's soft tissue and can even affect the bone that supports your teeth. Apart from the symptoms of gingivitis, you may notice pus flowing between your teeth and gums, receding gums, and bad breath.
Possible Causes of Gum Disease
Mayo Clinic says that gum disease is preventable. However, poor oral hygiene may cause bacteria to spread and penetrate the gums. Once plaque and tartar form, you're already on track for gingivitis or periodontitis. Other risk factors may include smoking, hormonal changes, improper nutrition, and genetics.
Gum disease doesn't just affect the mouth; its effects spread throughout the body. The bacteria can reach your bloodstream, causing possible infections and inflammations in your other organs. Heart disease has been linked to poor oral health. The germs may also be aspirated or breathed in and reach the lungs, causing pneumonia. The UK's National Health Service also stated that gum disease might also be linked to premature labour or low birth weight.
How to Deal With Gum Disease
Like any health condition, the best way to deal with gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis is prevention. Apart from brushing and flossing every day, you should also make frequent visits to the periodontist, a specialist in gum treatment.
If you already have gum disease, a dentist may give you a professional cleaning to get rid of tartar from your teeth. They may also polish your teeth to remove any marks left by tartar. Root planing may also be done to eliminate bacteria under your gums. Gum surgery and antibiotic medication may also be an option for more serious cases.
Your gums don't only hold your teeth but also help keep your mouth's structure in proper shape. The pain and discomfort that come with gum disease are already irritating and costly to deal with. Don't let it develop complications. Prevent it with proper hygiene and regular dental visits. After all, a healthy mouth leads to a healthy body.