One of the most common ailments among adults in the United States is periodontal or gum disease. This condition is identified by gums that bleed easily, as well as other symptoms such as chronic bad breath, red or swollen gums, or the formation of abscesses in the gums.
In fact, periodontal disease is so common that a recent study conducted among 3,742 adult participants in the United States, and published in the Journal of Dental Research, found that over 47% of study participants had periodontal disease. Based on this research, it is estimated that almost half the adult population in the United States has mild, moderate, or severe periodontal disease, which means this disease is currently affecting almost 65 million people in the U.S.
Among study participants aged 65 and older, researchers found an alarmingly high prevalence among U.S. adults in this age range, with as many as 70% of participants being affected with moderate or severe stages of the disease.
What are the Signs of Periodontal Disease?
- You should see a dentist immediately if you notice any of the following warning signs:
- Gums bleeding when you brush your teeth
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- The presence of abscesses in the gums
- Receding gums that expose the roots of teeth
- A persistent foul odor or taste
- Loose teeth and the gradual formation of gaps between teeth
- Changes in your bite
- Changes in the fit of your partial dentures
How Does Gum Disease Spread?
Gum disease can advance before you realize it, and may spread quickly to other tissues as it progresses through its three stages:
- Mild Periodontal Disease
The earliest stage of periodontal disease is called gingivitis. During this stage, the gums become red and swollen, and may bleed when you brush your teeth. At this point, the condition is easily treatable with antibiotics, a professional cleaning, and regular brushing and flossing.
- Moderate Periodontal Disease
Once the infection has spread below the gum line, it may begin to affect and wear down the periodontal ligament that affixes teeth to the supporting alveolar bone, as well as the bone itself. A scaling and root planing treatment may be indicated in order to eliminate harmful buildup of plaque below the gum line.
- Severe Periodontal Disease
Severe periodontal disease or advanced periodontitis is identifiable by the breakdown and separation of gum and bone tissue, as well as damage and instability of the periodontal ligament, causing the teeth to become loose. Tooth may fall out or require extraction. A bone graft may be indicated to replace lost bone tissue.
Is There a Way to Prevent Periodontal Disease?
Certain factors and conditions have been shown to increase the risk of developing periodontal disease. These include lack of oral hygiene, smoking, teeth that are difficult to clean properly due to malocclusions. Diabetes and pregnancy may also increase the risk, and certain medications may also affect the gums and bones, increasing the likelihood of periodontal disease.
5 Healthy Habits that Reduce Your Risk of Developing Periodontal Disease
While periodontal disease can sneak up on you, it is less likely to affect you if you practice the following healthy hygiene habits:
- Maintain regular dental checkups and professional dental cleanings at least twice yearly
- Brush your teeth regularly two times a day, following meals
- Use dental floss or a dental pick to clean between your teeth at least once a day
- Avoid sugary junk foods and maintain a balanced diet
- Quit smoking
If you are concerned about bleeding gums and the risk of developing periodontal disease, schedule a dental checkup at Thornton Town Center Family Dental. Our friendly office provides top of the lie comprehensive dental care for families in Thornton, Broomfield, Westminster, and neighboring areas in Colorado.