Severe gum disease is a condition that is also called periodontal disease or periodontitis. It is, unfortunately, extremely common, affecting around one in ten of the world’s population. Periodontal disease is often called a silent disease, as the early symptoms are very easy to miss or ignore. Consequently, when it is finally diagnosed, the condition might be chronic, meaning it cannot be completely cured but only controlled by ongoing dental care.
Periodontal disease can result in tooth loss, as it destroys the tissues supporting teeth, including gum tissue, the jawbone and ligaments that hold teeth in their sockets. However, the potential impact on overall health can be equally, if not more serious. This is because gum disease is an inflammatory condition. Over the past few years, a significant number of clinical studies have revealed a strong link between periodontal disease and other serious health problems like heart disease, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory illnesses and diabetes and mental health problems. People with a gum disease history are more at risk of developing health problems. Those who already have existing health problems could see them worsen.
A large study conducted in the UK discovered that people with gum disease at the beginning of the study were more likely to go on and develop health problems over a three-year period than those with healthy gums. The study discovered that people with gum disease at the beginning were at 37% increased risk of developing mental health issues, had an 18% increase in developing cardiovascular problems, and had a 33% increased risk of developing an autoimmune disease. Existing gum problems also increased the risk of developing type II diabetes by 26%.
These statistics are extremely concerning, especially as gum disease is a preventable condition, which is why we strongly recommend patients visit us regularly for checkups and hygiene appointments.
The Importance of Preventive Dentistry
We know that if patients receive the right preventive dental care and are educated in proper oral hygiene techniques, they can most likely maintain healthy, strong gums. Regular checkups allow us to detect the earliest signs of gum disease, at a stage when we can often reverse the disease completely simply by cleaning your teeth professionally.
How We Can Help You Maintain Good Gum Health
Usually, most people need to see us every six months, and we recommend booking a hygiene appointment at the same time. During these checkups, we carefully assess your gum health, taking detailed notes to compare with your previous appointment. We also ask you about your medical health in case any changes could impact your dental health and require us to adjust your preventative dental care plan.
If we notice your gums are looking a bit red, tender or swollen or that they bleed slightly when gently probed, a thorough dental cleaning will get rid of the bacteria causing the infection and inflammation combined with improved oral care at home.
Have you noticed your gums have started to bleed when you brush or floss? Please make an appointment to come and see us, as you could have early signs of gum disease. Getting treatment now will help protect your teeth, gums and general health.