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Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

Most likely, you understand the importance of regular brushing and flossing. Additionally, you’ve probably been hearing about the dangers of cavities and tooth decay since you first started brushing your teeth as a child. However, you may have much less information about gum disease. If you are experiencing bleeding gums or discomfort when brushing or flossing, you may be showing the first signs of gingivitis, which is the initial stage of gum disease. Gum disease is a very common problem in the United States and also the main cause of tooth loss in adults. It’s important to learn about this disease so you can prevent it from occurring in the first place.

How Gum Disease Impacts Your Health

Have you heard of gingivitis? Do you know how it differs from periodontitis? Let’s start with the basics. Gum disease is an acute or chronic condition caused by the buildup of bacteria in the mouth that causes inflammation of the gums. It is estimated that about 75 percent of adults in the United States suffer from gum disease in some form. Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease, and it is also the most treatable. Unfortunately, if gingivitis is not addressed right away, it can quickly develop into periodontitis and then into advanced periodontal disease which will cause damage that cannot be easily repaired or reversed.

This is a very serious condition as untreated gum disease can cause the loss of teeth, damage to the bone structure of the jaw and a number of other issues for your teeth, gums and overall state of health. It’s estimated that of the 75 percent of the population affected by gum disease, only 15 percent are aware they have the condition in the first place!

How can you treat a condition you don’t know you have? For many people it’s a very difficult task, luckily for others, gum disease can be prevented and treated with a quality, consistent dental health care routine. Visiting your dentist regularly is key to catching the symptoms early as dentists are professionals in highlighting problems before they become serious.

Primary Causes of Gum Disease

A number of different factors can increase the risk of developing gingivitis and periodontal disease. While poor dental hygiene habits often play a key role in this process, other conditions can also contribute to gum disease in some patients:

  • Medicines: Some medications can increase dry mouth, which can allow bacteria to build up on your gums and teeth, creating the right conditions for developing gum disease.
  • Illness: Patients who have cancer, HIV or Type 2 diabetes are also at higher risk for periodontitis due to a depressed immune system.
  • Tobacco: The use of tobacco in either a smoked or chewed form can also increase the odds that you will develop gingivitis. The chemicals and toxins in tobacco are harmful to the tissues of your mouth and can reduce your body’s ability to fight off bacterial inflammation.
  • Hormone fluctuations:Changes in hormone levels can also create added risk for periodontitis. These include the shifts in hormones that occur during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.
  • Dental care neglect: Failing to obtain regular dental care can also increase the risk that gingivitis will go unnoticed until it develops into a more serious form of the disease, causing more pain and expensive trips to the dentist.

What Are the Symptoms of Gingivitis and Gum Disease?

Some cases of gingivitis do not present any obvious symptoms at all. For patients who do show signs of gum disease, these are among the most commonly reported symptoms:

  • Bleeding of the gums during or after brushing and flossing
  • Redness of the gums, often accompanied by swelling
  • Bad breath that persists or returns after brushing and flossing
  • A nasty taste in the mouth, intermittently or constantly
  • Loosening of teeth and unexplained gaps that appear between teeth
  • Swelling of the gums or pockets of infection under the gums
  • Receding of the gums
  • Changes to the way your teeth fit together

Risks of Periodontal Disease and Critical Facts

The most common risk of untreated periodontal disease is the loss of teeth because of the deterioration and breakdown of ligaments and tissues inside the gums that hold the teeth in place. Periodontitis is the progression of untreated gingivitis. At this point, plaque, which is normally removed through regular brushing, flossing and dental cleanings, will have easy access to the sensitive tissues below the gum line, causing further irritation and swelling.

When you reach this stage of periodontal disease, the damage is mostly irreversible and will be expensive to fix. Losing your teeth, ligaments and bone structure can make it very difficult to get replacement teeth that fit comfortably and work well. The progressive nature of gum disease is why it’s incredibly important to understand the facts of the disease and how it can be prevented. Periodontitis can also be caused by other systemic diseases such as a heart ailment, diabetes, or a respiratory illness.

There are three types of periodontitis that you could develop:

  • Chronic periodontitis: The most common in adults, this type of periodontitis is indicated by the inflammation of the supporting tissues and the slow progression of loss of attachment.
  • Aggressive periodontitis: When you have this type of periodontitis, you are likely to experience the rapid destruction of bone and the ligaments supporting the teeth. This occurs in otherwise healthy adults.
  • Necrotizing periodontitis: Most common in people with suppressed immune systems, this condition is indicated by the death of the periodontal ligaments, gum tissues and bone.

Preventing Gum Disease

You can do a number of things to reduce the impact of gum disease and gingivitis on your teeth and your overall health:

  • Brush and floss regularly, according to your dentist’s recommendations.
  • Use a mouthwash between brushings to eliminate some of the bacteria that can build up in your mouth after snacks or sugary drinks.
  • Cut back on sugar and starch in your daily diet.
  • Make, and keep, regular appointments with our dental team for exams, X-rays and teeth cleaning.

Working with a qualified dental professional can help you to keep your teeth healthy and your smile bright. Your mouth is always full of bacteria, so remember to always practice proper and consistent oral healthcare!

If you are looking for a new home for your dental care or if you are concerned about gum disease, give our Baltimore office a call to schedule an appointment with a dentist. Let’s get your dental health on track and help you avoid gum disease, in all its forms.

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