February has been designated Gum Disease Awareness Month! Initially launched by the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry, its purpose is to raise awareness about gum disease and encourage healthy dental habits to prevent it.
What is gum disease?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gum disease, also referred to as periodontitis, is the result of infections and inflammation of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth. In the early stages, the gums can become swollen and red, and they may bleed. As it progresses, the gums can pull away from the tooth, which can eventually result in bone and tooth loss. Not only does gum disease affect your mouth, it can affect your body as well. Regular check-ups and good oral hygiene are important to ensure everything is healthy.
Periodontal disease is mostly seen in adults, with 47.2% of those aged 30 years and older having some form of it. This risk only increases with age. On top of age, there are many other risk factors that can increase your chance of developing gum disease. One of the primary risk factors is smoking, followed by poor oral hygiene, diabetes, stress, hormonal changes and medications that cause dry mouth.
How can gum disease affect your body?
While gum disease starts in the mouth, when left untreated, it can start affecting many other parts of the body as well. This includes respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease and diabetes.
Common symptoms of gum disease to watch out for include:
- Swollen or puffy gums.
- Bright red, dusky red or purplish gums.
- Gums that feel tender when touched.
- Gums that bleed easily.
- Pink-tinged toothbrush after brushing.
- Painful chewing.
How can gum disease be prevented?
The best way to help prevent gum disease is to have regular checkups with your dentist, brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day. Good oral hygiene prevents the development of specific bacteria that cause periodontal disease. If you’re having any symptoms, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your dentist to get it checked out.