Last Updated on December 23, 2022 by Dr Gustavo Assatourians DDS
Gum diseases can be prevented for the most part; however, according to the WHO, they constitute a significant burden on the health budget of many countries while affecting people throughout their lives. In short, they can cause pain, discomfort, and great inconvenience.
The WHO estimates that about 3.5 billion people suffer from this condition. It increases when caries management in permanent teeth is very limited. In addition, these treatments are expensive and not usually included in health coverage in some countries.
Many adults in the United States suffer from it, as confirmed by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. This disease can range from simple inflammation of the gums to a serious disease that damages the soft tissues and bones that support the teeth, resulting in tooth loss as it progresses.
One of the most serious diseases associated with gums is periodontitis. According to the data provided by the CDC, the prevalence of this oral disease in the US is as follows:
- About 42% of adults over 30 years of age have some type of oral disease.
- The risk of periodontal disease increases with age. In fact, about 70% of adults over 65 years of age suffer from it.
- It is a condition more prevalent in men than in women, with a ratio of 56.4% versus 38.4%, respectively. It mostly affects the vulnerable such as the poor and those with a low level of education. It is particularly common in smokers.
What are Gum Diseases?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a condition that causes inflammation of the gums, causing them to become sore and infected. You may notice a little blood during brushing. This sign is a warning sign that you have gum disease.
There are two types of gum diseases:
- The first is gingivitis: as a gum infection, it is mild, but management and treatment must be given to avoid complications.
- The second is periodontitis: when gingivitis is not treated, infection is deposited under the gums and reaches the bone, causing the tissue that supports the tooth to be damaged. In the end, the tooth can fall out.
Gum diseases present themselves in different ways depending upon the severity or stage of the disease. There are general stages. Gingivitis is the most common presentation, but it is reversible and results in less damage. But if not treated properly, it can turn into a more serious disease called periodontitis, the last irreversible stage that causes more severe damage, such as tooth loss.
Who is at Greater Risk for Gum Disease?
People with certain diseases or habits may be more likely to develop gum disease:
- People with high stress
- Anyone diagnosed with diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, and immune system disorders such as HIV and AIDS
- Those with poor dental health habits.
- People with crooked teeth, loose implants or permanent dental appliances such as bridges that do not fit well.
- History of gum diseases or early tooth loss
- Those not visiting the dentist regularly
What are the Gum Diseases Symptoms?
When you notice the following symptoms, you should take note of them and visit the dentist:
- Red and swollen gums: this is the first sign. In general, gum diseases begin with inflammation, and the area will feel sensitive and painful/ the gums will bleed easily when flossing or brushing, mainly due to the accumulation of plaque and tartar. According to ADA, bleeding gums caused by gingivitis are completely reversible.
- Bad breath: the mouth is the perfect environment for bacteria since it is warm, moist and rich in nutrients. The cells feed on plaque; the more there is, the greater the possibility of accumulation. This growth and metabolism of bacteria cause toxins to be released that generate an unpleasant odor. This bad smell can even occur after brushing.
- Receding gums: You may start to see smaller gums or larger, longer teeth. This happens when gum disease has advanced, and the gums recede, making them look smaller.
- Sensitive teeth occur when chewing becomes painful or it can happen with hot or cold drinks. Sensitivity is a symptom of gum disease that often goes hand in hand with receding gums.
- Loose or moving teeth: As the gums recede and the dentin is exposed, it becomes easier for bacteria to penetrate the bone, causing teeth to loosen or move. Periodontitis is the main cause; it can even change the way your teeth fit when you bite down.
Causes of Gum Disease
Plaque is the main cause of gum diseases since it accumulates on the teeth and contains bacteria. However, it is not the only factor. Others include:
- Hormonal changes occur during pregnancy, puberty, menopause, and monthly menstruation, making the gums more sensitive, which facilitates the development of gum disease.
- Immune system disorders: Some pathologies compromise or affect the immune system such as HIV, lupus, cancer, arthritis and/or diabetes, among others. They make the immune system unable to respond adequately to an infection, and cavities will develop more easily.
- Medications: Many studies describe how medications affect oral health. Some decrease saliva flow, which has a protective effect on teeth and gums. Others can cause abnormal growth of gum tissue such as Procardia, Dilantin, and Adalat.
- Bad habits: smoking, consuming alcohol, or not having a proper diet make tissue repair difficult.
- Poor oral hygiene: Not brushing, rinsing, or flossing daily promotes gum disease
- Family history: a very important factor for the development of gum disease since the patient is more likely to present gum disease.
- Age: older adults may have a higher risk of oral health problems due to physical or mental deterioration, the different diseases that afflict them, and poor memory for their daily routine.
Gum diseases are primarily caused by plaque, a sticky layer of germs that builds up on teeth. Plaque irritates the gums and makes them bleed easily. If plaque is not brushed off, it can harden and further irritate the gums. This hardened plaque is called calculus or tartar, and it can only be removed by a dental health professional.
It is important to have regular check-ups with your dentist so any problems with your teeth and gums can be detected and treated early.
If you have any of these issues and need guidance, feel free to visit Channel Island Family Dental.
At Channel Island Family Dental, we focus on providing a timely diagnosis. In addition, at Oxnard Dentist, Ventura Dentist ,Newbury Park, Port Hueneme Dentist, and Santa Paula Dentist, we provide the best treatment to restore your confidence in smiling again.
- Division of Oral Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Periodontal Disease (Internet). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Reviewed: July 10, 2013 (consulted August 16, 2022). Available in: https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/conditions/periodontal-disease.html#2
- Johns Hopkins Medicine Health. Periodontal Diseases (Internet). The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System. (accessed August 16, 2022). Available in: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/periodontal-diseases
- Evan Frisbee, DMD. Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)(internet). WebMD, LLC. Review on July 30, 2021 (consulted August 17, 2022). Available in: https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/gingivitis-periodontal-disease
- Rachel ReiffEllis. Gum Disease: Symptoms and Treatment (Internet). WebMD, LLC. Review on April 04, 2022 (consulted August 16, 2022). Available in: https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/gums-problems-gingivitis
- NHS 24. Gum disease (Internet). National Health Service, NHS reported. Update on: August 04, 2022 (consulted August 16, 2022). Available in: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/mouth/gum-disease#symptoms-of-gum-disease
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, NIH. Periodontal (Gum) Disease (Internet). National Institute of Health. Review on October, 2021 (accessed August 16, 2022). Available in: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/gum-disease7
. Healthdirect. Gum disease (internet). Healthdirect Australia. Review on January, 2021 (consulted August 16, 2022). Available in: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/gum-disease
- Cleveland Clinic medical professional. Gum (Periodontal) Disease (Internet). Cleveland Clinic. Review on Feb 23, 2021 (consulted August 17, 2022). Available in: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21482-gum-periodontal-disease
- Larissa Hirsch, MD. Gum Disease (Internet). Nemours Children’s Health. Review August, 2020 (accessed August 16, 2022). Available in: https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/gum-disease.html