02 May 4 Ways Gum Disease Impacts Your Life and Health
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is the swelling, inflammation, and tenderness of your gums that allows plaque to build up on your teeth and harden. It occurs in three stages: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. The first sign is often red or sensitive gums or bleeding when you brush or floss. When you see this, it’s absolutely imperative that you make a dentist appointment as soon as possible.
When you have gum disease, in any form, it’s going to impact your life and health. Understanding these effects can help you understand why it’s so important to get it treated as soon as possible.
More Invasive Visits to the Dentist
Having any level of gum disease is going to require more trips to the dentist. The worse your condition, the more invasive the treatment will be.
- Gingivitis is characterized by sensitive teeth and bleeding gums. It can usually be treated with regular but more frequent visits to the dentist, sometimes every three months instead of every six, as well as better brushing and flossing habits.
- Periodontitis occurs when tartar, plaque, and bacteria build up under the gumline leading to gum inflammation and tooth decay. It’s typically treated with a deep cleaning that requires local anesthetic, following up with frequent dental visits for cleaning and better brushing and flossing habits.
- Advanced gum disease can require much more invasive treatments like scaling and root planning or, in extreme cases, gingival flap surgery and bone grafting.
Varying Levels of Discomfort
When you have gum disease, at any stage, your mouth isn’t going to feel good most of the time. You may feel pain when you chew food. Your teeth might be much more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures — food, beverages, and even the air. Worse, your teeth may loosen or decay to the point of being useless, making it impossible to eat certain foods. One sign of gum disease is tenderness in your gums which by definition won’t be comfortable.
Pulled or Lost Teeth
If you don’t get your periodontal disease treated in time, it’s very possible that you’ll lose some or all of your teeth. Once you get the disease under control, you’ll have options to replace those teeth. Dental implants are the most long-term and natural looking method for giving you back your smile. You can have your remaining teeth pulled or become extremely diligent about maintaining your dental health. These are the only two options to make sure you keep gum disease at bay and make sure your dental implants give you the best possible results.
Higher Risk of Disease
Gum disease has been tied to multiple diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.
Heart disease: If you have gum disease, you’re twice as likely to have coronary artery disease. The going theory is that the bacteria from your gum disease gets into your bloodstream and settles on coronary plaque, helping form clots in the arteries. Another idea is that the chronic inflammation of gum disease may also increase atherosclerotic plaque buildup. None of it’s good for your heart.
Diabetes: Gum disease and diabetes go hand-in-hand in some really negative ways. Diabetes is considered a risk factor for making your gum disease worse, and gum disease is a risk factor making your diabetes worse. If you have both, you’re six times more likely to have worse blood sugar levels, and you’re at a greater risk of developing kidney disease.
Dementia: Persistent gum disease is believed to raise your risk of dementia later in life. It’s also associated with memory problems and other forms of mild cognitive impairment earlier than that. The worse your gum disease is the bigger an impact it can have on your memory.
The best prevention of gum disease is to take care of your teeth with regular brushing and flossing and trips to the dentist. If you don’t take care of your dental health or deal with the early signs of gum disease, your outcomes won’t be easy or cheap. Everything from dental implants to increased health risks are very real potential outcomes when gum disease progresses for too long.
Ideally, you can turn back the disease and keep your natural teeth for as long as possible. If that’s not an option, you can have a beautiful smile again with dental implants. No matter how bad your teeth and gums are, contact your dentist and make an appointment. Gum disease doesn’t have to be hopeless. You have more choices than you realize.