Not many people know about Gum Disease Awareness Month. It doesn’t get the publicity it deserves, especially when you consider that about half of all US adults have it at some point. That statistic may shock you. After all, how can so many people have gum disease and not know it, or not get treated? We’ll reveal more about this sneaky disease below, and we’ll also share how you can get healthy gums with help from an experienced South Bend dentist, like Dr. Hurcomb.
Gum Disease Is Known as the Silent Killer
We’re sure that got your attention! Why would gum disease be called the silent killer? There are a couple of reasons. One, the symptoms of gum disease are easily written off as normal, while some people don’t even recognize the symptoms. And two, gum disease has been linked to deadly diseases in the body.
Let’s take a look at gum disease signs first. (We’ll come back to the other reason.) We see patients every day who have signs of gum disease, or periodontal disease, but never even knew they had this condition. Take a look at some of the most common ones:
- Tender gums
- Swollen gums
- Red gums (not pink)
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Sensitivity, pain, or discomfort in gums when eating
- Bleeding gums, especially after brushing your teeth
- Teeth that appear longer
- Receding gums
- Pockets in gums
- Loose teeth
- Changes in your bite (when your teeth come together)
So, it’s easy to see why someone might not ever consider gum disease if their teeth bleed a little after brushing. That’s normal, right? Not so much. That’s a great reason — along with anything else above — to schedule an exam at Tulip Tree Dental Care. We guarantee that if you have gum disease, we’ll find it and get you the proper care.
Getting a Little Background Info on Periodontal Disease
Obviously, gum disease affects your dental health. It’s caused by bacteria building up and creating plaque and tartar on your gums and even underneath them. This buildup creates inflammation, which we call gingivitis. This is the first stage of gum disease. The good news here is that it’s reversible with the right care. If you see us soon enough, we can perform a cleaning that will clear up the bacteria.
Advanced gum disease, or advanced periodontitis, occurs when the gums become infected. Your body will start to fight off the infection in your gums, but eventually, your jawbone may become affected as part of the infection-fighting process. Because your bone supports your teeth, this support starts to go away. At this point, you may notice that your teeth become loose. In some cases, they may even need to be extracted. That’s why gum disease, not cavities, is the #1 cause of tooth loss.
Although this form of gum disease is chronic, we can help you manage it so that you keep your smile looking, feeling, and working like it should. The key is getting help as soon as you notice symptoms. But don’t think it’s ever too late for you. We have solutions no matter how bad of shape your gums or mouth are in. And you do not have to feel embarrassed. Our only job is to help.
Understanding Gum Disease & the Oral-Systemic Connection
So, you know some of the consequences of gum disease now. You also know some of the symptoms. We mentioned that gum disease has been linked to other conditions in the body, too — some that are deadly. That’s why dentists use the phrase “oral-systemic connection.” Here’s an incomplete list of conditions research has revealed so far:
- Heart disease
- Heart infections
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Respiratory illnesses
- Some cancers
We won’t say gum disease causes any of these medical conditions, or vice versa. Research is still ongoing. But we think that knowing there is some kind of link at all is enough reason to be concerned about your gum health, beyond your mouth. That’s why at every dental exam, we use measurements to determine if you have healthy gums or need treatment to get them healthy again.
See a Skilled Gum Disease Dentist to Care For Your Smile
Our intention with all this information is not to scare you into coming to the dentist. As dental health care providers, our job is to educate you on ways to keep your mouth healthy. And because there’s so much misinformation on this condition, and so much at stake, we feel it’s our duty to let you know. We also feel it’s our duty to offer as much periodontal care at our general dentist’s office as possible, without referring you to a specialist. That’s why Dr. Hurcomb has received training in this area of dentistry. She and our team can help you get a worry-free smile again, no matter the condition of your smile right now.