Why Gum Health Is So Important

Gums can seem like a secondary area of care, second to your teeth. While the health of your teeth is important, of course, your gum health is just as necessary. Without proper brushing and flossing, your gums will get infected which will cause them to bleed. Bleeding gums can be one of the first signs of gum disease. A mild form of gum disease is called gingivitis, which exclusively infects your gums, but if left untreated, the infection can travel down to your bone. Once it has traveled past your gum line, then it becomes a more serious gum infection, otherwise known as periodontitis, which has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and even an increase in the risk of developing cancer. To learn more about how to properly take care of your gums, or to schedule an appointment with the best dentists in Lawrence, contact Lawrence Dental Studio today. 

Symptoms of Unhealthy Gums

Chances are you’ve probably dealt with unhealthy gums at least once in your lifetime. If you’ve experienced sore and bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, or red and swollen gums, your gums have been the victim of an infection. In addition to these symptoms, keep an eye out for the following:

  • Loose teeth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Receding gums or longer appearing teeth

You may be able to diagnose your gum disease yourself, but during a dental visit, a dental hygienist will examine your gums and take note of any inflammation. They will also check the pockets around your teeth, which should be between 1 and 3 millimeters in a healthy mouth. The dentist may also examine any bone loss by taking an x-ray. If you’re unsure about your gums and would like a professional opinion, then schedule an appointment with Lawrence Dental Studio today! Our dentists are experts in the field and are great resources for your dental needs. 

Gingivitis

Gum disease initially starts when bacteria, mucus, and food particles invade the small space between your gums and teeth. If left untreated, your gums and teeth are put at great risk of becoming infected, which can lead to an increasingly difficult, painful, and expensive treatment. As discussed above, gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease, and it causes the gums to become red,swollen, and bleed easily. Because the infection is not yet too intense, the pain and discomfort is little to none. Further, with professional treatment and good oral care, the symptoms of gingivitis can be reversible. Some factors that contribute to gingivitis include:

  • Smoking
  • Aging
  • Stress
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • HIV infection

Having gingivitis is a great opportunity to improve your oral health and getting control of the infection before it becomes a bigger issue. Treatments for controlling the infection can vary, depending on the extent of the gum disease. They can range from changing certain behaviors, like quitting smoking, to practicing healthier oral habits, like brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing regularly to remove plaque from between teeth. One of the most important factors in catching your gum disease early, however, is scheduling regular dentist appointments. Routine check-ups with our professional dentists at Lawrence Dental Studio will prevent gingivitis from getting worse and will also ensure healthy gums and a beaming smile! Call us now to schedule an appointment with the best dentists in Lawrence, Kansas. 

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is the aggravated form of gingivitis left untreated. Over time, plaque will begin to grow, spreading below the gum line, producing toxins and further irritating the gums. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response, in which the body begins to attack itself, and the tissue and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. During this time, the gums separate from the teeth and form spaces between the teeth that become increasingly infected. The pockets continue to deepen, further destroying the gum tissue. Eventually, the teeth will have to be removed. There a few forms of periodontitis, which include:

  • Aggressive Periodontitis – This form can be explained by rapid attachment loss and bone destruction. 
  • Chronic Periodontitis – Characteristics include pocket formation, inflammation within the supporting tissue of the teeth, and progressive detachment and bone loss. It can occur at any age.  
  • Periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic diseases – Beginning at a young age, periodontitis will occur as a result of conditions like heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes.
  • Necrotizing periodontal disease – This infection is characterized by cell death in the gingival tissue, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone. Lesions associated with this form are commonly observed in individuals with systemic conditions like HIV infection, malnutrition, and immunosuppression. 

Health Risks of Gum Disease

The state of your teeth affects your overall health and well-being. Several studies have shown that periodontal disease is associated with heart disease. While there is no cause-and-effect relationship that has been proven and established, it has been researched to show that periodontal disease increases the risk of heart disease. Periodontal disease can further exacerbate existing heart conditions and has even been linked to stokes.

In addition to compromising the health of the heart, gum disease has also been linked to osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. Osteoporosis may lead to tooth loss because the density of the bone that supports the teeth may be decreased, which means that teeth no longer have a solid foundation. In addition to contributing to the decrease in jaw bone density, gum disease can cause respiratory diseases like pneumonia. This is from the bacteria in the oral cavity that is then aspirated into the lungs. Lastly, research has indicated that men who have gum disease are 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, are 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and are 30% more likely to develop blood cancer. 

More alarmingly, there is research to show that periodontal disease is linked to an increased buildup of beta-amyloid in the brain, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s. A type of bacteria that is commonly found in cases of periodontitis, Porphyromonas gingivalis, can be found in the brain of individuals with Alzheimer’s. 

How to Treat Gum Disease

Depending on what stage your gum disease is at, the level of treatment will vary. But the goal of any treatment is to prevent further damage and control the infection. Some methods of treatment include scaling and root planning, medications, and surgery. 

  • Scaling and root planning – This treatment is for less severe cases of periodontitis. Our dentists will remove the infection-causing plaque by a method called scaling and root planning. It is essentially a deep clean that removes bacteria from around the gum line and on the tooth root.
  • Medications – Medications are used to reduce the size of the gum pockets and come in forms including mouth rinses, gel, pills, or small particles that the dentist will place directly in the pockets. 
  • Surgery – Surgery is the last option for a method of treatment if the deep cleaning and the medications don’t work. Types of surgery, include flap surgery, which lifts away gum tissue so the dentist can clean underneath it before the tissue is sutured back in place, and gum or bone graft surgery, which grafts tissue or bone from another part of your mouth onto the damaged part of your gum or jaw. 

While these treatments are all effective, the best treatment is the maintenance and prevention of gum disease in the first place. Caring for your gums can involve brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, and regularly seeing the best dentists in Lawrence by scheduling an appointment with Lawrence Dental Studio. 
Without regular checkups and extremely close examination of your gums, you may not be aware that you have gum disease. The failure to recognize and treat gum disease can have serious effects on your overall health. Regular dental checkups are the best way to identify these symptoms, so schedule an appointment with Lawrence Dental Studio today! We are experts in periodontal disease and how it can affect your body. We have designed treatments that are specific to each of our clients to ensure that they reach the healthiest outcome possible for their situation. For more information about our gum disease treatments, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.