February 7, 2019
Lots of people take their gums for granted. Indeed, they may give little to no thought to the pink tissue that frames their teeth. But your gums are vital! Keeping them in good shape can protect both your oral health and overall health. Since February is Gum Disease Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to pause to reflect on how your gums are faring. If you suspect you have gum disease in downtown DC, seeking prompt treatment could save your smile and maybe even save your life!
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease occurs when bacteria sneaks into the gum tissue and causes it to become inflamed. There are two stages of gum disease:
- Gingivitis is the gum disease’s earliest manifestation. Its signs and symptoms include swollen gums and gums that bleed easily during brushing and flossing. It is a relatively minor problem that causes no permanent damage if it is properly addressed. In most cases, an improved oral hygiene routine can stop and even reverse gingivitis.
- Periodontitis is the advanced form of gum disease. If gingivitis goes untreated, the bacteria that causes it begins to eat away at the bone that supports the teeth. As a result, the gums begin to recede, the teeth start to loosen, and pockets of pus may form in the mouth. In severe cases of periodontitis, extractions are necessary to remove teeth that no longer have adequate support.
Not Just an Oral Health Problem
It’s bad enough that gum disease causes chronic bad breath, increased tooth sensitivity, and tooth loss — but this terrible condition doesn’t just wreak havoc in the mouth. It can cause or worsen a number of systemic health problems, including:
- Diabetes. Gum disease is an infection and, like any infection, it can make diabetes more difficult to manage.
- Cardiovascular problems. The bacteria from gum disease can slip into the bloodstream and lead to inflammation in the arteries, causing them to narrow and leading to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Alzheimer’s. Researchers have found gingivalis (the primary bacteria in gum disease) in the brains of many people who suffered from Alzheimer’s.
- Preterm birth. The hormonal changes in pregnancy often lead to gingivitis, which, left untreated, increases the risk of stillborn and premature births.
- Cancer. Research has shown a link between gum disease and pancreatic cancer.
Fighting Gum Disease
If you suspect you have gum disease, visit your dentist in downtown DC as soon as possible. They’ll design a treatment plan to get your oral health back on track. Sometimes, oral hygiene coaching is enough to conquer gum disease. In other cases, a deep cleaning of the mouth is necessary. Soft tissue laser therapy may also be used to get rid of infected tissue and kill bacteria.
Don’t let gum disease wreck your smile or ruin your health! Team up with your dentist to keep this precious pink tissue functioning at its best.
About the Author
Dr. Dennis Winson is one of three dentists in our practice. He specializes in periodontal (gum) care and has been helping people achieve healthy smiles since 1967. If you would like Dr. Winson and the rest of our team to help you battle gum disease, contact us at 202-775-0022.
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