Does it seem like your bad breath that won’t go away? Are your gums, red, tender or bleeding (especially when you floss)? How about your teeth? Are they sensitive or feel loose? These can all be symptoms of gum disease, a problem that can get serious if it’s not dealt with.
If you think you or someone you know might have gum disease, one of the first things you need to do is visit with your dentist or hygienist. But it also helps to do your research and identify what kind of gum disease you have, how to treat and prevent it and how other health problems can relate to it.
Types of Periodontal Disease (Or Gum Disease)
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), many/most adults have some form of gum disease. The two main types are gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gingivitis is the more well-known and common form of gum disease, as it’s a mild inflammation of the gums and is the result of plaque and/or tartar. Periodontal disease is an advanced stage of gingivitis that literally makes your gums pull away from your teeth. If either of these diseases go untreated, you could ultimately lose your teeth.
Who Gets Gum Disease
There are a variety of reasons some people are more at risk for gum disease, but one of the biggest is smoking. It both causes and prevents successful treatment of gum disease. Other reasons include diabetes, hormonal changes, medications and susceptible genes.
How to Treat Periodontal Disease
Since gingivitis is usually mild, it’s easier to treat. You can reverse through brushing, flossing and regular trips to the dentist. Periodontal disease is more serious, so it usually requires professional help. Your dentist can give you the ideal treatment options or refer you to a specialist.
How Other Health Problems Link to Gum Disease
The NIDCR also notes that the following non-mouth problems may result from gum disease. Here are a few of them:
- Heart disease
- Difficulty controlling blood sugar
- Pre-term, low-weight baby delivery (for pregnant women)
Even if you don’t have gum disease, it’s still important to make smart choices so you don’t develop it. Brush twice daily, floss regularly, get routine check-ups and try to stop or limit smoking. It’ll go a long way toward maintaining healthy gums and preventing serious problems.