The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducted a study in 2009 and 2010 that measured the prevalence of periodontitis, familiarly known as gum disease, in American adults. The study estimates that 47.2%, or 64.7 million American adults, have mild, moderate or severe gum disease. For adults over the age of 65, rates increase to 70.1%.
Conclusion: Nearly half of American adults have gum disease.
How can gum disease affect you?
Gum disease can do irreversible damage if not treated and maintained. The plaque that that builds up between teeth and gums creates pockets that bacteria can get into, causing an infection in the gums. The infection can damage the bone and periodontal ligaments (PDL) that hold teeth in place and gums may begin to pull away from teeth. At the advanced stage of gum disease, teeth begin to shift, loosen and fall out because the PDL and bone that usually support the teeth are destroyed.
- Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Gums that are red, puffy or swollen, or tender
- Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- Pus that appears between your teeth
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
At every check-up and cleaning, the hygienist and doctor measures the bone level and inspects gums for any pus, bleeding or inflammation.
How is gum disease treated?
The doctor or hygienist recommends a deep-cleaning to patients with gum disease. The hygienist scales the teeth by cleaning off the plaque above and below the gum surface and root planing which smoothes out the rough layers of the teeth. For two weeks after a deep cleaning, chlorhexidine mouth wash is used to kill bacteria so sensitive gums will heal. If you have been diagnosed with gum disease it is important to follow the recommendations of your hygienist. She may recommend one to two additional cleanings per year.
- There are simple steps that you can take to avoid developing gum disease.
- Brush and clean between teeth with floss
- Eat a well balanced diet and avoid sugary snacks
Get regular check-ups and cleanings. They are the best way to discover and treat early gum disease before it leads to a more serious problem.
Do you still have questions about gum disease? Contact our Sacramento Dentist.