According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, about 80 percent of adults have some form of gum disease.
And about 90 percent of those who have it, have no idea they do, says Dr. James A. Wells, who runs South Charlotte Dentistry. “If your arm started bleeding, you’d do something about it. You’d go to the doctor. You’d want to know what’s going on. Yet so many people tell us their gums bleed every time they brush and they just don’t think anything’s wrong.”
Here are 10 important things to know about gum disease:
- People who brush and floss at least twice a day and have regular cleanings in the dentist’s office are at little risk for gum disease.
- Mouths are full of bacteria, which along with mucus and other particles, forms plaque, a sticky build-up on teeth. You can only remove so much plaque by brushing and flossing. As plaque builds up, it becomes tartar, and only professional cleaning will remove tartar.
- Gum disease starts with red, puffy gums that bleed when teeth are brushed or flossed. With early detection, this condition, which is called gingivitis, can successfully be treated.
- Left untreated, gingivitis can turn to peridonitis, a serious disease that is expensive to treat and affects not only teeth and gums, but causes tissue and gum loss as well.
- Gum disease can cause teeth to fall out.
- Grinding or clenching teeth, tobacco use, certain medications and heredity are factors in gum disease.
- Signs of gum disease include red, puffy gums, chronic bad breath, tooth loss and tooth sensitivity.
- Gum disease isn’t just limited to seniors. It can show up in patients who are in their late 20s.
- Gum disease doesn’t only affect teeth. It’s been linked to coronary artery disease, diabetes and strokes, among other health issues.
- Men are more susceptible to gum disease than women.