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When people think of dental care, they often think of teeth. But healthy teeth are only part of the equation. The tissues and bone that surround your teeth, including your gums, are critically important to your overall dental health.
You may be thinking, “There’s no way I could have gum disease. My mouth feels fine.” But gum disease often shows no obvious symptoms and doesn’t cause pain – so many people have it and don’t know it. Nearly half of adults age 30 or older have some form of periodontal (gum) disease. And, nearly 70 percent of adults age 65 and older have it, according to the CDC.
Why does this happen to so many people, and how can you avoid it? Get the facts about this common problem and seek treatment early to keep your mouth healthy.
- Early stage gum disease, known as gingivitis, may cause subtle symptoms such as mild bleeding or red or swollen areas on your gums. If your gums bleed when you floss them, this is not normal. See your dentist for a proper cleaning, and be diligent about daily brushing and flossing thereafter.
- Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate brushing and flossing – but many other things can cause it too. Diabetes, normal aging and genetics, smoking, stress, poor nutrition, certain diseases, and hormonal changes can trigger gingivitis. Even people who are in otherwise good health can get gingivitis or more severe gum disease, so no one is immune.
- Gingivitis is completely reversible with proper intervention. This includes a thorough cleaning by your dentist followed by twice daily brushing, daily flossing, and sometimes a special mouthwash recommended by your dentist. This is one of the many reasons you should see your dentist every six months for routine care. He or she can detect gingivitis in its earliest stage and help you restore the health of your mouth.
- If gingivitis isn’t treated, it leads to more severe gum disease known as periodontitis. This occurs when plaque moves below the gum line and causes inflammation and irritation. If it continues to progress, it leads to infections, pockets or holes in the tissues, and tooth loss.
- Gum disease is about more than your mouth. Because bacteria gets under your gums and can invade your body, periodontal disease may be linked to other serious health problems. Researchers believe there may be a link to heart disease, stroke, premature birth in pregnant women, and lung problems.
Gum disease is preventable and treatable – so no one should have to lose teeth to this condition. Your dentist wants to partner with you to maintain healthy teeth and gums for life. If you haven’t seen your dentist lately, call Ridgeway Family Dentistry in Soldotna today to make an appointment. Your mouth – and your whole body – will thank you!