According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control, almost half of all American adults (more than 47 percent) suffer from some form of gum disease. Counting just those who are 65 years old or older, the numbers soar to more than 70 percent. Being able to spot the early signs of gum disease will help you prevent the worst of it.
Gum disease infects the soft tissue that holds your teeth in place. If left untreated, the disease can lead to tooth loss and other health problems. If you have gum disease, the bad news is that it can go unnoticed and get worse. The good news is that gum disease takes a long time to develop into something more serious.
Gum disease can be treated successfully, but only if it’s caught early enough. Asheville dental professionals encourage you to look for early warning signs of the disease. If you notice something unusual around your gums, bring it to the attention of your dentist or hygienist.
The first thing you need to know about gum disease is whether you are at risk. According to the experts, men get gum disease more frequently than women. Smokers have a higher risk of gum disease than nonsmokers. People with HIV and cancer get gum disease at higher rates, but this is due to the intense treatment methods they undergo for their conditions.
Certain diets can heighten the risk for gum disease, too. For example, a diet with an extremely high acid content can weaken your gum tissue. And medications that reduce the amount of saliva you produce put your gums at higher risk for infection. Ask your Asheville dental team about the medications you’re taking and how they might affect your gums.
Signs of Gum Disease
Listed below are some of the major signs of gum disease. If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your Asheville dental team.
- Gums that are prone to bleeding. If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth or eat crunchy foods, you may have gum disease.
- Chronic bad breath. If you simply cannot get rid of bad breath, or if you always have a bad taste in your mouth, that may be a sign of gum disease.
- Teeth that have shifted. If you notice that your teeth fit together in a different way, they might be shifting in position, which can indicate gum disease.
- Loosening teeth. If your permanent teeth have come loose, it can be a sign that your gums have weakened. Gum disease causes your gums to separate from your teeth. See your Asheville dentist as soon as possible.
- Sore gums. If your gums are visibly swollen or if chewing causes pain, you should make an appointment with your Asheville dentist right away.
Since gum disease progresses so slowly, you have time to reverse the process. If you don’t catch the warning signs, your Asheville dental hygienist will on your next appointment and surprise you.
Asheville Dental Solutions
Medications, intensified cleanings, specialized toothpastes and surgery in extreme cases are treatment options for severe cases. If you have a mild case of gum disease, your treatment may involve nothing more than changing to healthier dental habits:
- Regular brushing and flossing
- A possible change in diet
- Quitting a cigarette habit
- An extra trip to the dentist every year
- No more grinding your teeth
Your Asheville dental team may suggest all these to you to prevent your gum disease symptoms from worsening. Your dentist wants you to maintain long-term dental health so you end up on the right side of the gum disease statistics.
—The Zöe Dental Team