Did you know that nearly half of all Americans suffer from mild, moderate, or severe gum disease? Gum disease is a type of periodontal disease, which refers to infections of the tissues around the teeth. That includes the gums, periodontal ligaments, and the bone structures beneath your gums. Gingivitis is a mild infection in the gum tissues surrounding the base of teeth, and is the earliest stage of gum disease. Symptoms may include swollen, red, and tender gums, or bleeding gums after brushing or flossing. If left untreated, gingivitis can spread to affect the rest of your periodontal tissues.
The main cause of gingivitis and gum disease is plaque buildup, though certain patients may have additional risk factors that put them at a higher risk of developing the infection:
- Tobacco Use: Smoking or chewing tobacco is harmful to your overall health, and especially the health of your gums and oral tissues. Studies indicate tobacco use may be the number one risk factor for sever periodontal disease.
- Obesity or Poor Nutritional Health: A lack of nutrients can make it harder for the body to ward off infections. Gingivitis begins as a mild infection, but if the body is poorly nourished and unable to overcome it, it can quickly spread and become a more serious oral infection.
- Age: Older patients have a higher risk for developing severe periodontal disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 70% of Americans over the age of 65 have periodontal disease.
- Certain Medications: Certain drugs such as anti-depressants, heart medications, and oral contraceptives can make your gum tissue more susceptible to infection.
- Certain Health Conditions: Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health conditions can interfere with the body’s immune system and result in a much slower healing process for gingivitis or other oral infections.
- Bruxism: Grinding and clenching your teeth puts undue pressure on the supportive gum tissues. In turn, weakened tissues are more susceptible to bacterial infections from plaque and tartar.
Healthy Gums for a Healthy Smile
If you’re experiencing symptoms of gingivitis, it’s important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Michael now, so that any infection can be eradicated before spreading to other oral tissues. Call our office today at 651-452-5511.