Like most diseases that form in our bodies, periodontal (gum) disease begins silently. People who develop cancer or heart disease typically have no warning signs in the earliest stages of formation. The same is true for gum disease. By the time symptoms are obvious, such as gums that bleed when brushing or tender, sore gums, many assume these problems are normal and ignore them. This merely allows gum disease to progress further.
Initial signs of periodontal disease, once they emerge, include gums that bleed when you brush, persistent bad breath, tender gums, swollen spots around teeth and gums that pull away from teeth. If your dental cleanings are uncomfortable, it may have less to do with the Hygienist’s technique and more to do with heightened gum sensitivity. People with healthy gums rarely complain of discomfort during oral hygiene visits.
The earliest form of gum disease is Gingivitis. It begins with a buildup of plaque, which is a sticky film that forms on teeth. This film is an accumulation of oral bacteria. When not removed on a regular basis (such as with twice daily brushing and daily flossing), plaque hardens into calculus. Calculus attaches to teeth and is impossible to brush or floss away. When a dental hygienist scrapes at teeth with a special instrument, she is likely removing calculus buildup.
The bacteria of calculus not only attack tooth enamel, they eat away at tender gum tissues. For people who are not regular with their 6-month oral hygiene exams and cleanings, the delay in calculus removal allows for a steady progression of oral bacteria growth and damage.
Gum disease also has the ability to be an inflammation trigger once bloodborne. Oral bacteria of gum disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissue. Numerous studies have associated this bacteria with an inflammatory reaction that can trigger an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies and much more.
Although research findings have created more awareness and emphasis on maintaining good periodontal health, gum disease is still rampant in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that half of all American adults age 30 and over have some level of gum disease.
If you have missed or delayed regular dental check-ups, you are advised to have a thorough dental examination. From this, we can develop a plan to restore your mouth to a healthy state (and help to protect your overall health in the process!). Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for more information.