Nearly half of Americans have gum disease and it’s the leading cause of tooth loss. With it being so predominant, it’s a wonder why more people don’t take it seriously. At Irresistible Smiles, we want to help more people get the care they need to prevent and treat gum disease before it causes serious and irreversible damage. Learn everything you need to know about gum disease so you can protect yourself and your family.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is inflammation and infection of the gums and bone that support and surround the teeth. Periodontal disease is most common in adults. Nearly 47.2% of adults over age 30 have gum disease and 70.1% of adults 70 or older have some form of periodontal disease. Gum disease affects men more than women, those who live below the poverty level, those with less than a high school diploma, and those who smoke more than others.

young woman picking at her red, swollen gums

Symptoms of Gum Disease

One of the best ways to avoid gum disease is to recognize the symptoms early on. Watch for the following symptoms and get care if you have any.

  • Puffy, swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bright red, purple, or dusky red gums
  • Tender gums
  • Spitting out blood when brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Pus between gums and teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • Spaces developing between teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Change in bite

Causes of Gum Disease

Periodontal disease usually starts due to plaque build up along the gum line. This can happen when teeth are not properly cleaned through brushing and flossing and regular professional dental cleanings. As the plaque hardens on the teeth, it turns into tartar which is significantly more difficult to remove than plaque. The longer plaque and tartar rest on your teeth, the more damage they can produce. Only your San Diego dentist can remove tartar from your teeth with a professional dental cleaning. If it’s not removed, the bacteria can affect your gums and cause gum disease to form.

Risk Factors of Gum Disease

You’re at a higher risk for gum disease if any of the following risk factors apply to you.

  • Poor oral health
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Recreational drug use including vaping or marijuana
  • Hormonal changes including pregnancy or menopause
  • Genetics
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Conditions that caused decreased immunity
  • Diabetes
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

The Stages of Gum Disease

Gum disease has several different stages. Each stage affects your oral and overall health differently.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and is very treatable. During the first stage of gum disease, the bacteria only affects your gum’s soft tissue. It may not cause any discomfort and usually only mild symptoms such as swollen or bleeding gums, receding gums, bad breath, and spaces between the teeth. Usually, gingivitis can go away with a deep cleaning (root planing and scaling) and more effective oral hygiene habits at home. We may also recommend more frequent dental cleanings.

Early Periodontitis

Without treatment of gingivitis, gum disease will progress to early periodontitis. During this stage, the disease will progress past affecting the gums and also affect the bone structure of teeth. The spaces between teeth will grow larger and form pockets where bacteria, plaque, and food will begin to collect. These pockets will also lead to infection which can damage the surrounding bone.

Moderate Periodontitis

Without treatment, early periodontitis will advance to moderate periodontitis where severe inflammation begins to spread. Patients can expect to experience more discomfort as they lose more bone, receding gums, and loose teeth.

Advanced Periodontitis

The last stage of periodontal disease is advanced periodontitis. At this stage, painful abscesses will form. Teeth will become even looser and potentially even fall out and your gums will look very shrunken. Without treatment, tooth loss is inevitable.

closeup of a man's smile pointing to his red, swollen gumsWhat Happens Without Gum Disease Treatment

Without gum disease treatment, you can experience an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, pregnancy complications, diabetes, and various cancers.

Additionally, you can lose your teeth and bone density which can also affect your facial appearance.

Gum Disease and COVID-19

The last thing you should know about gum disease is its correlation to COVID-19 complications. A study conducted in Qatar found that those who had gum disease and contracted COVID-19 had a higher chance of severe complications including the need for intensive care, intubation, and death.

Get Gum Disease Prevention and Treatment in San Diego

To reduce the possibility of severe health complications related to gum disease, we highly recommend seeking preventive treatment for gum disease as well as gum disease treatment if you believe you have it. Preventing gum disease is as easy as brushing and flossing regularly, visiting the dentist twice per year for cleanings, not smoking, and eating less sugary starchy foods.

If you do have gum disease, Dr. Safarian will recommend the best treatment options to help optimize your oral and overall health. We offer a full range of gum disease treatments as well as restorative dentistry treatments to reverse the effects of gum disease. Please call (619) 656-6785 today to book an appointment.