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June 10, 2021

What Is Gum Disease?

bryce @ 6:16 pm
Lifting lip to show red gums, a sign of gum disease

Some people will often define someone’s smile as attractive by how white and straight their teeth appear. Maintaining healthy, tight pink gums is just as important. Being a cosmetic dentist, I base a healthy, attractive smile upon the health of the gums as well. 

What Are the 2 Major Types of Gum Disease?

Generally speaking, gum disease can take the form of either gingivitis or periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis).

In its early form, gum disease begins as gingivitis. Gingivitis is localized to the gum tissue, not yet affecting the ligaments and bone supporting your teeth. As gingivitis progresses, the bacteria migrate between the bone and the teeth, thereby infecting the ligaments and becoming periodontitis. Eventually, this persistent bacterial infection progresses to bone loss and eventually tooth loss. Of course, this can be detrimental to your overall health!

How Important Is It to Seek Treatment for Gum Disease?

The bacteria from infected gums are most visibly apparent as plaque. Plaque is that sticky material that forms around your teeth. It is loaded with billions of germs that can affect your general health. The bacteria migrate throughout your circulatory system, thus infiltrating everywhere your blood flows. This is one of the reasons why people with periodontal disease have an increased risk of having a heart attack. In fact, as gum disease progresses, it can make treating patients with heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory infections more difficult. The bacteria from your gums can be inhaled, leading to pneumonia. This problem can also progress to increase the chance of stroke, oral cancer, and even pregnancy complications.

Chart showing how gum disease affects overall health

How Do I know if I Have Gum Disease?

Symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Reddish, swollen gums. Sometimes tender, sometimes not.
  • Gums that easily bleed with toothbrushing.
  • Bad breath or taste in your mouth.
  • Shifting or loose teeth.

What Can You Do about Gum Disease?

Don’t be so embarrassed about it that you avoid seeking help. Dentists (like Dr. Bryce) are here to help you. In the big picture, it is more expensive to replace teeth and treat gum disease the longer it goes on. It’s even MORE expensive to let it go and do nothing, considering all the related health conditions. So be diligent and find a dentist who can help you. Toothbrushing, flossing, and water picking are all necessary, but may not work without professional help. 

Gum disease is a dangerous oral health condition! Knowing what it is and when to seek treatment can save your oral health.

Meet Dr. Bryce

Dr. Robert Bryce is an experienced dentist who serves Ashburn, Sterling, Potomac Falls, and other local communities. He is active in numerous professional organizations, and he is one of only a handful of dentists worldwide to have achieved Mastership status with the prestigious Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies. If you are concerned about gum disease, he would be pleased to help you get your oral health back on track. Contact our practice at 571-434-8000.

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