If your hands were to ever bleed when you were washing them, then you would likely be quite concerned. However, a lot of folks think it’s actually quite normal when their gums bleed anytime they floss or brush.
In 1999, United States National Institutes of Health researchers discovered that nearly half of all Americans over the age of 30 were suffering from bleeding gums.
Bleeding and swollen gums are both early signs of gums infected with bacteria. When nothing is done in the response of this, the infection might spread out and destroy the structures which support the teeth inside your jawbone. Eventually, it’s possible that your teeth get loose enough that they need to get extracted.
‘Perio’ is a word for ‘around’, whereas ‘dontal’ is a reference to ‘teeth’. As such, periodontal disease is an infection of the structures surrounding the teeth, including the gums, alveolar bone, and periodontal ligament. The earliest stage of most periodontal disease, which is gingivitis, is when infection impacts the gums. When the disease gets into more severe forms, every tissue gets involved.
For quite a few years, scientists were trying to figure out the causes behind periodontal disease. It’s now quite well-accepted that many kinds of bacteria that are in dental plaque are likely to be the major villains. Researchers also happen to be learning more about how infections that are in your gums can impact your broader health in your body.
While research is ongoing, there do seem to be links between other medical problems and gum disease.
Periodontal disease might increase the risks of existing heart disease, clogged arteries, atherosclerosis, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory disease.
Despite the numerous potential impacts, the cause behind periodontal disease is usually simple. It’s a sticky substance which forms on the teeth even after they’re brushed.
Ironically, it’s a physical response to a bacterial infection which causes many of the issues. In an attempt to get rid of the bacteria, your immune system will release substances that inflame and even destroy the gums, alveolar bone, or periodontal ligament.
This starts with bleeding and swollen gums and gingivitis, which is the earliest part of periodontal disease, followed by the loosening of teeth, which is a symptom of advanced periodontitis.
When plaque builds up on your teeth, it can both get hardened and calcified, turning into tartar, as well as getting under the gum line. When flossing and brushing don’t hit plaque, then gums get inflamed. As gums get swollen, they start detaching from teeth where they form pockets or spaces between the gums and teeth. It snowballs into more plaque accumulation where the plaque is harder to remove.
Gum disease is usually a silent affliction. Something that makes it particularly dangerous is that symptoms might not show up until the disease is in an advanced stage.
Having said that, there are warning signs of potential or active gum disease that you can watch out for between your regular dental checkups:
- First of all, look out for any kind of pain in your mouth. Tender, red, or swollen gums are specific things to be mindful of.
- Bleeding is the second thing to look out for. This can happen when brushing or flossing. It can also happen when eating hard foods.
- A third thing to watch out for is any gums that might be receding and pulling away from your teeth. This can make teeth start looking longer than they used to.
- Fourth, watch out for any separating or lose teeth. Also, keep your eyes open for mouth sores and pus in between your teeth and gums.
- Persistent bad breath is also a potential warning sign.
Other changes to be mindful of include changes in how your partial dentures fit or even how your teeth fit together whenever you bite.
Prevention includes regular brushing and flossing as well as routine dental checkups.
Risk factors include:
- Genetic susceptibility
- Tobacco use
- Fluctuating hormones
- Gritted teeth
- Clenched teeth
- Grinding teeth
- Misaligned teeth/bridgework/braces
- Diseases like HIV infections
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Poor nutrition also hurts a great deal
Millions of folks don’t even know that they have this quite serious infection, and it can lead to eventual teeth loss when it’s not treated.
So keep your eyes open for changes in your mouth, sensitivity, and bleeding. If you notice any of these issues it’s best to make an appointment to see your dentist.
Maybe you’re just brushing your teeth too hard, but because of the serious nature of Periodontal disease, it’s important not to shrug these warning signs off.