Miami and Coral Gables, Florida
“We all think that cholesterol is important to heart disease. The health of your gums is a more important predictor of whether you will have a heart attack or not.” Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., FACS, Director, Cardiovascular Institute/ Columbia Univ. Medical Center, New York, NY
Gum disease can rob you of your oral health and create serious dental problems which may require expensive procedures to correct. Consequences can range from discomfort and unsightly redness to tooth loss, jawbone loss, and even deadly heart disease. The importance of gum health cannot be overemphasized.
The earliest stage of gum disease is gingivitis. Gingivitis is the inflammation of your gum tissue. It results in:
Gingivitis is caused by infection in your gums. If left untreated, it will progress into more serious gum disease.
How Gum Disease Takes Hold in Your Mouth
Gum disease is caused by bacteria and the acids they secrete. Over time, these bacterial secretions develop into plaque. Plaque can be removed by proper dental hygiene at home. When it is not removed quickly enough, it hardens into tartar.
When bacteria get between your teeth and gums, they cause inflammation and create pockets in your gums. You cannot clean out these pockets yourself, so the bacteria thrive and multiply, enlarging the pockets. In this stage, gum disease is called periodontitis.
Eventually, the bacteria are able to reach the tooth roots and even get inside of the roots, killing your teeth. These bacteria can also get into your bloodstream and cause other health problems such as heart disease.
Consequences of Gum Disease
In the initial stages, gum disease can be reversible. If it is allowed to progress it can lead to:
- Receding gums
- Tooth loss
- Jawbone loss
- Dental pain
- Sunken facial appearance – premature aging
When gum disease is caught in the early stages, periodontal treatment can prevent permanent damage. If gum disease progresses to the point that it has permanently damaged tissues or structures in the mouth, your treatment can stop the damage from getting worse and help prevent tooth loss. Therefore, it is crucial to treat your gum disease as soon as possible to minimize any future damage.
Causes of Gum Disease
The primary cause of gum disease is inadequate dental hygiene and failing to have your teeth cleaned professionally on a regular basis. Other factors which can contribute to gum disease include :
- Weakened immune system, sometimes as a result of health conditions such as diabetes or HIV
- Hormonal changes, such as those which occur during pregnancy, puberty, menstruation, menopause, or andropause
- Certain medications which reduce saliva or stimulate abnormal gum tissue growth