Have you noticed painful gums, bleeding when you brush, or persistent bad breath? These are all common symptoms of gum disease, a condition that many are reluctant to discuss, perhaps due to its stigma or simple unawareness.
If you have any of these symptoms, you may avoid seeking treatment due to embarrassment. But we are here to assure you there is absolutely no shame in having gum disease— but there are several good reasons to address it.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also medically referred to as periodontal disease, is inflammation of the gums. This inflammation can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. The condition can be classified into two stages:
Gingivitis is the earliest of the two stages of gum disease. It can be characterized by redness or swelling of the gums as well as bleeding during brushing and flossing. Gingivitis can also involve tooth sensitivity and pain while chewing. Gingivitis is the result of the accumulation of plaque on the teeth and at the gum line. But the good news? It is reversible with proper dental hygiene.
If untreated, gingivitis can potentially lead to periodontitis. At this more advanced stage, the gums deteriorate further and begin to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets that can become infected. Over time, these pockets deepen, and more gum tissue and bone are affected.
Symptoms can be similar to those of gingivitis but can also include recessed gums, loose teeth, or changes in how your teeth fit together. Periodontitis can ultimately result in tooth loss.
Just How Common is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is much more prevalent than you might have thought. According to the CDC, almost half (yes, half!) of adults in America aged 30 and older have some form of gum disease. Shockingly, that number jumps to over 70% for adults aged 65 and older.
So, if you are concerned about your gums, you are certainly not alone. And with gum disease afflicting so many people, it is not something you should feel embarrassed about.
The Immediate Need to Address Gum Disease
While it might be tempting to dismiss mild symptoms as insignificant, treating gum disease in its early stages is crucial for several reasons:
Health Beyond Your Mouth: Research indicates that there is a likely link between gum disease and other health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Keeping your gums healthy might just have benefits for the rest of your body.
Tooth Preservation: The progression of gum disease can lead to tooth loss. Addressing the issue promptly can help you keep your natural smile for as long as possible.
Financial Savings: Early treatment can save you significant amounts in the long run. Advanced gum treatments, not to mention tooth replacements, can be costly.
Your Dentist is an Ally (Not a Critic)
The idea of disclosing dental problems to others can be intimidating. Patients often fear judgment or perhaps are just embarrassed. But remember, dentists are trained professionals. Our primary concern is your health, not critiquing your dental history.
If you’re experiencing gum issues, your dentist isn’t there to scold or shame you. Instead, we are here to help, to provide solutions, and to guide you toward better oral health. After all, we’ve seen it all before.
Taking the First Step
Acknowledging the problem is often half the battle. As we’ve discussed, gum disease is common, but it’s not inconsequential. It affects not only your mouth but potentially your overall health.
So, if you’ve spotted any symptoms of gum disease, it’s time to take action.
Reach out to our office to schedule a consultation, and let our team help you back to optimal dental health. After all, you (and your health) are worth it!