The Centers for Disease Control states that 47.2% of adults in the United States have gum disease, making it one of the most common diseases of our day. Even with the prevalence of the disease, it is largely misunderstood. Here are three of the most important facts about gum disease you probably didn’t know:
1. Gum disease is an infection.1
This infection can become systemic, and it leads to symptoms like gum recession, bone loss, and deep pockets between the gums and bone that become houses for debris and further infection.2 Our hygienists and assistants are able to take a sample of the plaque in your mouth and send it off to a lab to do a bacteria analysis. This analysis allows us to identify which strain of bacteria is present so we can recommend the proper treatment.
Infection is not something that we can simply wait on to see if it gets any worse. It should be treated immediately by a skilled hygienist combined with excellent home care.
As an example, imagine you had an infection in your hand. Imagine you could visibly see and measure the bone eroding away at the tips of your fingers as time went on. Would you just try to wash them a little bit better and wait to see what happened? No! You would get to the doctor ASAP for treatment. It is the same with gum disease. Brushing our teeth more diligently can only do so much. Sadly, you can’t brush away infection.
2. Gum disease can lead to heart disease.
Heart disease is the number one killer of adults in the United States.3 Research shows that the infection and inflammation associated with gum disease can actually cause heart disease.4 Gum disease has also been linked to strokes, diabetes, osteoporosis, respiratory disease, cancer, and even glaucoma, among others.5,6,7,8 The health of your mouth is directly linked to the health of the rest of your body; disease within it should be treated with just as much diligence and care as any other illness.
3. Gum disease can be treated successfully and controlled.
Luckily, there is hope! With proper treatment, we can eradicate inflammation at the source and prevent further symptoms. Our bodies are made to heal in the right conditions. We can never remove any chance that gum disease will return, but attending your recommended cleanings can ensure that the proper treatment is always given.9
Needless to say, gum disease needs to be taken seriously. If left ignored or untreated, it can lead to bone loss, tooth loss, heart disease, or a host of other issues. We can’t just keep an eye on infection and hope it gets better. Unless we step in and fight it, it only gets worse.
If you have questions about gum disease or what we do in our office to treat it, please give us a call or send us a text at (540) 828-2312.
1. Gum Disease. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/gum-disease/more-info. Accessed August 29, 2018.
2. Gum Disease Symptoms. American Academy of Periodontology. https://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease-symptoms.htm. Accessed August 29, 2018.
3. Leading Causes of Death. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm. Accessed August 29, 2018.
4. Gum Disease and Heart Disease. American Academy of Periodontology. https://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease-and-heart-disease. Accessed August 29, 2018.
5. Gum Disease and Other Systemic Diseases. American Academy of Periodontology. https://www.perio.org/consumer/other-systemic-diseases. Accessed August 29, 2018.
6. Grau AJ. Periodontal Disease as a Risk Factor for Ischemic Stroke. Stroke. 2004;35(2):496-501. doi:10.1161/01.str.0000110789.20526.9d.
7. Diabetes and Periodontal Disease. American Academy of Periodontology. https://www.perio.org/consumer/gum-disease-and-diabetes.htm. Accessed August 29, 2018.
8. Astafurov K, Elhawy E, Ren L, et al. Oral Microbiome Link to Neurodegeneration in Glaucoma. Barnes S, ed. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(9):e104416. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0104416.
9. Treating Periodontal Diseases. American Dental Association. https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/patient_46.pdf?la=en. Accessed August 29, 2018.