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Posted on: April 20, 2021
Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease
Why Gum Health Is Important
When it comes to the health of your mouth, cavities aren’t the only threat. Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is a serious condition that can cause tooth loss if you don’t receive proper treatment. Your gum tissue helps provide support for your teeth and securely holds them in place. If your gum tissue is diseased, there’s a chance that your teeth can become loose or even fall out.
What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and refers to gum inflammation. During the early stages of gingivitis, plaque and bacteria accumulate between your teeth. Your gum tissue becomes inflamed and may bleed easily when you brush or floss. Although your gums are irritated if you have gingivitis, there isn’t any damage to the bones and other soft tissues. Practicing good oral hygiene habits, including daily flossing, brushing twice a day, and receiving regular dental cleanings can help reverse gingivitis.
Gingivitis advances to periodontitis if you don’t pursue treatment. Periodontitis is a serious infection that damages the bones and soft tissues that hold your teeth in place. As periodontitis develops, chronic inflammation causes your gum tissue to gradually pull away from your teeth, which forms pockets. These small spaces between your teeth and gums become infected over time. Without treatment, periodontitis progresses to an advanced stage that can loosen your teeth, leading to tooth loss.
The main difference between gingivitis and periodontitis is that you can reverse gingivitis with good oral health habits, but periodontitis can only be managed with ongoing treatments provided by your dentist.
Seven Common Causes of Gum Disease
The buildup of plaque between your teeth is the primary cause of periodontal disease. Plaque is a sticky, colorless film made of bacteria. While brushing and flossing your teeth every day removes plaque, it develops quickly. Plaque hardens into tartar, or calculus, if it remains on your teeth for more than a couple of days. The bacteria in tartar and plaque irritate and inflame your gum tissue. This can lead to the early signs of gum disease, including swollen gums that bleed easily.
There are also specific risk factors that can make you more susceptible to gum disease. These include:
- Genetics: You could be at an increased risk of gum disease if a member of your family was diagnosed with the disease. Over 30 percent of people that develop gum disease do so due to a genetic predisposition, making it vital you visit a dentist regularly so they can help catch problems early.
- Smoking: Regularly chewing tobacco and smoking introduces toxins directly to the gum tissue, preventing you from fighting off infections and making it more likely you will develop gum disease.
- Poor dental hygiene: Flossing daily and brushing at least twice a day, preferably after each meal, is the most effective way to prevent harmful plaque and tartar from accumulating.
- Medications: Dry mouth is a common side effect for many medications, including high blood pressure medications, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants. Saliva plays an important role in your mouth as it helps to neutralize the acids in plaque. Having a dry mouth irritates the gum tissue, which can make them inflamed and vulnerable to infection.
- High-stress levels: Stress can affect your oral health by weakening your immune system and making it difficult for your body to fight off infections. This can make you more susceptible to developing gum disease.
- Medical problems: If you have a medical condition that affects your immune system and decreases immunity, such as leukemia or HIV, you may be at an increased risk of developing an infection, including gingivitis.
- Hormonal changes: Following a diligent oral care routine during puberty, menopause, menstruation, and pregnancy is essential. The hormonal changes you experience during these times can cause your gum tissue to become more sensitive, increasing the likelihood of developing gum disease.
Know These Gum Disease Symptoms
One of the main dangers of gum disease is that the symptoms aren’t always noticeable until the disease has advanced to periodontitis. Once you know what to look for, you can identify gum disease before and successfully treat it before it leads to tooth loss. The following are warning signs of periodontal disease:
- Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
- Red, puffy gums that feel tender to the touch
- Persistent bad breath or a chronic bad taste in your mouth
- Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth
- A change in the fit of your partial dentures or other tooth replacement device
- Loose or teeth that are separating from the gums
- A change in how your teeth fit together when you bite down
Gum disease is the easiest to treat when diagnosed early. The longer gum disease progresses, the more difficult treatment becomes. Make an appointment at our office right away if you notice any of these symptoms.
What Can I Do to Prevent Gum Disease?
By taking the proper precautions and engaging in a few healthy habits daily, gum disease is preventable. Let’s take a closer look at each:
Brush and Floss Daily
Carefully brush your teeth and gum line for at least two minutes, two times a day. The goal is to remove plaque and food particles, so it’s important to choose a toothbrush that allows you to reach all of your teeth. You should also floss once a day, making sure to floss between each tooth.
Rinse With Mouthwash
After brushing and flossing, rinse your mouth with mouthwash. Mouthwash can rinse away bacteria from hard-to-reach places in your mouth.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Try to limit your consumption of foods high in sugar and starch since these types of foods can aid in the development of plaque. Focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in nutrients, especially vitamins A and C and calcium.
See Your Dentist Regularly
Visiting your dentist at least every six months is one of the most effective ways to keep your mouth healthy. Receiving routine exams and professional cleanings can prevent most dental issues from occurring, including gum disease. In fact, your hygienist or dentist is capable of detecting the signs of gum disease before you even notice any symptoms.