Most of us can grasp the idea of tooth decay, but we often forget that the gums supporting the teeth can also get infected and be of equal importance to our dental health. Gum or periodontal disease is mainly the result of infections and inflammation of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth. In its early stage, called gingivitis, the gums can become swollen and red, and they may bleed. In its more serious form, called periodontitis, the gums can pull away from the tooth, bone can irreversibly be lost, and the teeth may loosen or even fall out.
Gum disease, like a dental cavity, is caused by bacteria. Did you know significant associations between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, preterm low birth weight, and osteoporosis have been discovered? The links among oral diseases and systemic diseases are serious and physicians and dentists are teaming up, more than ever, to treat the body as a whole.
As a dentist in Sacramento, I strongly encourage all of my patients to be aware of the health of their gums. The consequences of neglecting them can be devastating.
Gum Disease Risk Factors
- Diabetes - People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including gum disease.
- Other illnesses - Diseases like cancer or AIDS and their treatments can also negatively affect the health of gums.
- Smoking - as if you needed another reason to quit smoking!
- Hormonal Changes in girls/women including pregnancy
- Medications - some medications can actually contribute to gum disease or cause dry mouth
- Genetic Susceptibility - some people are more genetically susceptible to developing gum disease
OK, OK, Dr. Apekian, we get it...GUMS are important, but now what?
Well, first thing is first. Make sure you are getting your annual exams and cleanings. Once a year at Midtown Dental, we check the health of your gums and give you you specific recommendations. Even healthy gums require maintenance at least every 6 months with a routine cleaning. I am personally very proactive with periodontal disease, because sadly, once you've lost bone, it's gone for good and very unlikely to be restored. PREVENTION is key, so schedule your appointment today. It's good for your smile AND your overall health!