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Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

The thought of bloody gums and teeth is off-putting to say the least. But those are the consequences of gingivitis, also called gum disease. When it’s not treated promptly, you’ll not only have bleeding gums, but you could also lose your teeth. Fortunately, this unpleasant prospect can be avoided through a regimen of good oral hygiene and regular dental appointments. Continue reading to learn more about the insidiousness of periodontal disease and how to recognize it as well as how to avoid it.

What Are Gingivitis and Gum Disease?

Gingivitis begins as inflammation and the infection of the gum tissues that surround the teeth. It’s usually caused by inadequate or improper oral hygiene, but there are other causes as well. When gum disease is detected and treated in its early stage of gingivitis, it can be cured and any adverse impact on the teeth and gums can be reversed. If not treated, however, it will turn into periodontal disease and then periodontitis. By this time, any damage that has occurred is permanent, and though the disease can be treated and stopped, you’ll not be able to reverse any damage.

Unfortunately, it’s a very common ailment among the population. Almost 75 percent of American adults have gum disease in varying stages, and but only about 15 percent of them are aware of the fact. Almost two-thirds of teens above the age of 14 have gum disease. Of all those, both teens and adults, who are aware of the condition, about 30 percent have it as a result of a genetic predisposition, so they’ll likely develop gum disease regardless of the quality of their oral hygiene practices. However, this diagnosis can only be made by a dentist and you should practice good oral hygiene whether the tendency for gingivitis runs in your family or not.

In What Ways Does Gum Disease Impact My Overall Health?

Anything that goes into your mouth can become part of your body, whether it’s a beneficial substance or a harmful one. Gum disease is started when bacteria in your mouth are not removed on a daily basis, at least. Eventually, they form plaque and gum disease, which causes decay and cavities. The bacteria in gum disease can travel through the sensitive and permeable membranes in your mouth to your bloodstream, which will carry them throughout your body.

Research has proven a correlation between gum disease and major illnesses such as diabetes, cardiac disease, pulmonary disease, bone loss, and dementia. If left untreated, then periodontal disease will destroy the ligaments that secure your teeth in your gums, your jawbone will deteriorate, and you’ll lose your facial structure. Your teeth are the first stage of your digestive process, so you’ll not be able to absorb nutrients from your food, your digestive process will suffer, and your overall health will be adversely affected.

Although it may be difficult to grasp that so much damage can occur simply from not brushing and flossing properly and sufficiently, that’s the case. A regimen of good oral hygiene can help you avoid all of the issues stated about and maintain proper oral health as well as your physical health throughout your life. You’ll have a more beautiful smile when it’s full of your natural teeth rather than gaps, bridges, and artificial teeth.

Which Habits Will Cause Gum Disease?

The primary habit that will trigger gum disease is poor oral hygiene. Proper oral hygiene practices include brushing and flossing at least twice each day and using an antibacterial mouthwash after brushing, according to the American Dental Association. Your oral hygiene regimen should also include semi-annual visits to the dentist for cleaning and an exam. If twice yearly isn’t feasible, be sure to have an annual appointment at a minimum. Even if you have an excellent regimen of oral hygiene, your dentist may be able to spot minor issues that can be treated before they develop into major problems.

In addition to your oral hygiene habits, other factors that can influence the onset of gingivitis are as follows:

  • Hormonal fluctuations can increase gum sensitivity and the likelihood of developing gingivitis.
  • Illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and HIV can adversely affect the immune system, so it’s easier for gum disease to start.
  • Prescription medications sometimes have dry mouth as a side effect. When there’s insufficient saliva in the mouth, the bacteria isn’t readily eliminated and gum disease can start.
  • Lack of hydration can also cause a dry mouth, so drinking an ample amount of plain water throughout the day can help reduce the likelihood of developing gingivitis.
  • Tobacco contains toxins that damage the gum tissues. Tobacco use in any form increases the toxins in the body and inhibits the gums ability to heal itself, creating the perfect conditions for gum disease to start.
  • Poor dietary habits that involve high sugar and carbohydrate intake provide an optimal environment for bacteria to grow and proliferate.

What Gum Disease Symptoms Should You Be on the Look Out For?

Although some people have gingivitis for a long time without being aware of it, there are usually signs and symptoms that indicate its presence, such as:

  • Bleeding gums during or after brushing and flossing
  • Chronic halitosis
  • Bite changes
  • Inflamed and swollen gums
  • Loosened teeth
  • Persistent bad taste in the mouth
  • Pockets between the teeth and gums
  • Pus between your teeth
  • Pain
  • Receding gums

If you notice any or all of these, then you should schedule an appointment with your dentist without delay. Gingivitis can present asymptomatically, so if you have symptoms, your disease may have escalated to a more advanced stage.

What Specific Facts Should I Know About Periodontal Disease?

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. When gingivitis isn’t treated, then it will develop into a more serious disease called periodontitis, and then advanced periodontitis. You’ll develop pockets between your teeth and food particles and bacteria will accumulate in the pockets and cause more severe infection. Gradually, the ligaments that hold your gums will be destroyed as will your jawbone and your facial structure. You’ll lose all your teeth and your only option at this point is reconstructive dental procedures that are both costly and painful. It’s easier and cheaper to brush and floss regularly.

Most people develop chronic periodontitis. However, aggressive periodontitis can occur in otherwise healthy individuals. It’s an aggressive disease that will quickly destroy your gums, jawbone, and teeth. Necrotizing periodontitis occurs most commonly in those with compromised immunity and it causes the death of the cells in the gum tissues and jawbone.

Is Gum Disease Preventable?

Gum disease is entirely preventable, as is the damage and destruction it causes by following these tips:

  • Eat a healthy diet that’s low in processed and refined foods, especially carbohydrates and sugars
  • Maintain good hydration
  • Brush at least twice daily, and especially just before bedtime
  • Floss at least once daily, preferably just before bedtime
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash after brushing and flossing
  • Use an ADA-approved toothpaste, toothbrush, and mouthwash

Taking good care of your teeth and gums will provide you a lifetime of benefits both physical and dental, so start today with your good oral hygiene program.

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