You might have heard about gum disease since the time you were a little kid when your dentist first told you why it’s so important to brush your teeth every day. Gum or periodontal disease is something most people are aware of but don’t think much about during their everyday lives. If you don’t have any visible symptoms of it, it’s probably not on your mind too often.
Unfortunately, periodontal disease has a way of sneaking up on people–and what you don’t know about it can hurt you. Here’s everything you need to know about gum disease–but probably didn’t.
Lots of People Have Gum Disease
Although it’s not exactly something people talk about at dinner parties or around the water cooler at the office, periodontal disease is pretty common. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, nearly half (47 percent ) of adults over the age of 30 in the US have some form of periodontal disease. As people get older, the prevalence of the disease increases dramatically. More than 70 percent of adults over age 65 have some form of gum disease.
Men are more likely than women to develop periodontal disease. Smoking also increases the risk of developing the disease. Although it does affect adults more than children, kids can also be affected.
Gum Disease Doesn’t Mean You’re “Dirty”
A common misconception about gum disease is that it’s exclusively caused by poor oral hygiene. While it’s true that not brushing twice a day and skipping flossing will increase your risk for a gum issue, your oral care habits aren’t the only risk factors for the disease. People who take great care of their teeth and who see their dentists regularly for exams and cleanings might be at risk for developing gum disease because of their family histories and their genes.
Hormones can also influence whether a person develops a gum issue or not. For example, women who are pregnant often have an increased risk of developing gum disease. Menstruation and menopause can also affect a woman’s risk of periodontal disease.
There Are Different Types of Gum Disease
When people hear the phrase “gum disease,” they often equate it with gingivitis. The truth is, not all forms of gum disease are gingivitis. In fact, gingivitis is the mildest form of the disease and is also the only type of the disease that is completely reversible. A deep cleaning by a dentist and a renewed commitment to oral care at home is usually enough to clear up gingivitis.
The next stage of periodontal disease after gingivitis is periodontitis. If gingivitis isn’t treated, the plaque and tartar will continue to irritate and inflame the gums. Over time, the inflammation can cause the bone and other tissues around the teeth to become loose. More and more bacteria can build up around the teeth and gums and over time, the teeth can become very loose and fall out.
Gum Disease Can Affect Other Systems of the Body
Gum disease isn’t limited to the mouth. The bacteria responsible for gum problems can spread to other areas of the body, such as the heart or lungs. There, the bacteria can cause infections or increase a person’s risk for developing heart disease. Gum disease might also increase the risk of complications in pregnant women, such as premature birth or low birth weight.
If you’re in the Miami area and want to learn more about gum disease, a periodontist can help you better understand your risk and your treatment options. Dr. John Paul Gallardo offers patients a number of different traditional and cutting-edge treatments for gum disease and will work with you to develop a treatment plan that works for you. To schedule an appointment in Miami, FL, call 305-547-8687 today.