What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection of your gums. Oral bacteria move into the area between your teeth and gums. As they grow, they attack your gums and teeth, enlarging the space. Eventually, they attack the bones that hold your teeth in place. This makes your teeth loose and can cause them to fall out.

But the consequences of gum disease are partly due to your body’s response to this chronic infection. In an attempt to cure the infection, your immune system can attack your body, causing further damage to teeth, gums, and bone.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Gum disease sneaks up on many people. They don’t seek treatment until their condition is serious, which makes it harder to treat and puts your teeth and your health at risk. This isn’t because gum disease has no symptoms. However, many people think some gum disease symptoms are normal. However, you should talk to your dentist if you experience gum disease symptoms like:

  • Red gums
  • Puffy gums
  • Sensitive gums
  • Gums that bleed
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Food stuck between teeth and gums
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Receding gums
  • Teeth shifting
  • Loose teeth
  • Teeth falling out

These symptoms are arranged roughly from minor to severe. Many people experience red, puffy, and sensitive gums but don’t think it’s serious. Some people even believe it’s normal for their teeth to bleed when they brush. They might also dismiss persistent bad breath, not knowing it’s linked to gum disease.

While it does sometimes happen that you get some food stuck between your teeth and gums, such as the husk of a popcorn kernel, if you notice this happening more and more often, perhaps with larger bits of food like chips, you should take it seriously. Teeth get more sensitive when the gums separate because it allows hot and cold liquid to penetrate to the tooth roots.

Unlike rodents, our teeth don’t grow all our lives. So if it looks like your tooth is growing, it’s probably receding gums giving the appearance of tooth growth. It’s usually about this time that teeth become loose, can shift, and are in danger of being lost.

Dangers of Gum Disease

Although most people worry that gum disease will lead to tooth loss, it can have effects throughout the body, endangering your health and even your life. Gum disease can increase your risk of:

  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Cardiovascular death
  • Pneumonia
  • Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
  • Autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis
  • Cancer

Diabetes and gum disease make each other worse, and it’s important to treat them together. Women with gum disease are more likely to experience pregnancy complications like premature birth and low birthweight babies.

The heart and lungs are at higher risk when you have gum disease. Gum disease bacteria can infect the heart, or they can contribute to the growth of artery-clogging plaque. This can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, which can be fatal.

Oral bacteria are inhaled and can grow in your lungs, contributing to pneumonia. Toxic proteins released by oral bacteria can damage your brain, leading to dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Gum disease bacteria are hard for your immune system to fight. The ongoing battle can lead to immune system dysfunction and autoimmune disorders. In addition, chemical tools oral bacteria use to hide from your immune system can cloak cancer cells as well, letting small tumors grow. The chronic inflammation of gum disease might also contribute to the start of cancer, too.

Gum Disease Treatment

But you don’t have to live with gum disease. With the help of Torrance, CA dentist Dr. Webber, you can prevent and treat gum disease. The treatment depends on the severity of your gum disease.

For minor gum disease, Dr. Webber might just recommend changes to your oral hygiene or more regular cleanings and exams. For more serious gum disease, laser treatment can kill the bacteria in your gums and help your gums heal. Root scaling and planing is a traditional procedure with the same goals, but using blades and scrapers.

For the most severe cases of gum disease, surgery is required. This might include tooth extractions to help your body heal.

Do You Have Gum Disease in Torrance, CA?

If you suspect that gum disease is behind problems with your teeth and gums, Torrance, CA dentist Dr. Webber can help. Please call (310) 534-3477 today for an appointment at Simply Smiles.