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Knowing the Enemy: Interesting Facts About Gum Disease

September 13, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — lubbockdentist @ 8:58 pm
Woman shows her gums

Since more than 80% of adults deal with some form of gum disease, it is one of the most common ailments in America. Unfortunately, many people have it because they don’t understand how it works or what causes it, leaving them stuck with irritating and slowly worsening infections. In honor of Gum Care Month this September, here are some interesting facts from your dentist about gum disease to help you better understand how to avoid it.

Gum Disease Is Insidious

Many people with gum disease don’t even know that they have it because the early symptoms such as mild irritation or a slight reddening are often difficult to catch. It often only shows itself when it reaches a more advanced stage of infection, meaning that your risk of major oral health problems increases if you avoid seeing the dentist until you can feel the symptoms. Regular dental visits are crucial to preventing gum disease because a dentist can catch and treat these symptoms so they can be addressed before they get out of control. Advanced gum disease can result in tooth loss, bone loss, or secondary infections like sepsis.

Gum Disease Is Contagious

You might think that gum disease sticks to the gums it starts in, but nothing could be further from the truth. Kissing or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation can transfer it from one person to another. It can even be spread by double-dipping in a shared bowl when eating chips or other snacks with friends. It is so contagious that many OB doctors recommend that pregnant women have regular dental checkups to prevent gum disease from spreading to the unborn child.

Gum Disease Can Hurt the Whole Body

In more advanced stages, the bacteria infecting the gums can spread through the bloodstream to other parts of the body where they can cause secondary infections like sepsis. The presence of gum disease-causing bacteria may also stress the circulatory system by contributing to plaque buildup in blood vessels, leading to heart disease or heart attacks.

Gum disease also strains the endocrine system, aggravating or increasing the likelihood of developing diabetes. Diabetes in turn can hinder the body’s autoimmune responses, meaning that diabetes and gum disease can make each other worse over time.

Even though gum disease is incredibly common, it is also almost completely avoidable. Good oral hygiene including daily brushing, flossing, and using antibacterial mouthwash in addition to regular dental visits can provide you with a multi-layered system of protection against gum disease and many other oral ailments.

About the Author

Dr. Kevin Shively earned his dental doctorate from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry before completing an intense one-year externship focusing on advanced topics such as gum surgery. He has taken over 600 hours of continuing education and is currently finishing training at the world-renowned Dawson Academy. His office in Lubbock, TX offers general, pediatric, restorative, cosmetic, and emergency dentistry as well as periodontal treatments. For more information on preventing gum disease or to schedule a visit for you or a loved one, contact his office online or dial (806) 698-8660.

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