Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. This pesky problem is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) estimates that approximately three out of four Americans suffer from some form of gum disease – from mild cases of gingivitis, to the more severe form known as periodontitis. However only approximately three percent seek treatment for their gum disease. With increasingly more research indicating that gum disease may be linked to several other diseases, including diabetes, heart disease and certain forms of cancer, maintaining healthy teeth and gums has become more important than ever. Let’s debunk some common myths surrounding gum disease.

Gum disease isn’t very common:

Gum disease is all too common. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that 47 percent of adults age 30 and older have some form of gum disease. As we age, we’re naturally more susceptible to infections, including those in the gums. Sixty-four percent of adults age 65 and older have either moderate or severe gum disease.

Poor oral hygiene is the only way to develop gum disease:

Slacking on dental hygiene can certainly contribute to the progression of gum disease, but there are a variety of other factors that can also elevate your risk. For instance, tobacco use has been shown to greatly increase your chance of developing gum disease. Stress, poor diet, diabetes and even genetics, can also play a role in the health of your gums.

I don’t have cavities so I can’t have gum disease:

Being cavity-free doesn’t mean you’re in the clear where gum disease is concerned. That’s because gum disease is painless, and many people have no idea they have it. Gums that are red, swollen, or bleed easily or are red, swollen or tender is a sign of gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease and the only stage that is reversible. When caught early, gingivitis can usually be eliminated by a professional cleaning at the dental office, followed by daily brushing and flossing.

Having gum disease will mean I will lose my teeth:

Not the case! You can avoid losing your teeth by practicing good oral hygiene. That means brushing your teeth twice a day, cleaning between your teeth daily, eating a healthy diet, and scheduling regular dental visits. Even if you are diagnosed with gum disease, your dentist can design a treatment plan to help you keep it under control.

Bleeding gums are normal and aren’t anything to worry about:

False. Like any other part of the body, gums bleed for a reason. Red, swollen, bleeding or tender gums can be signs of gum disease. Schedule a visit with your dentist if you notice any bleeding after brushing or flossing or when consuming certain foods. Periodontal disease should not be ignored as it can lead to other more serious health issues like heart disease and diabetes. It’s important to catch gum disease in its earliest stages. Some women develop a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis.” Don’t fret — thorough brushing and flossing, along with regular dental cleanings, will decrease gum bleeding.

Bad Breath can be an indicator of gum disease:

Although bad breath can be a symptom of gum disease, it can also signal other potential health issues. The only sure way to know is by making an appointment with your dentist. If he or she gives your mouth a clean bill of health, consult your primary care physician. Bad breath can also be a symptom of acid reflux, a bowel obstruction or some other digestive issue, often nicknamed “stomach breath”.

If you have any questions about gum disease, call Winning Smiles to schedule an appointment with your dentist – 716-332-2444.