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Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

Periodontal disease can result in tooth loss and potentially dangerous health issues.

The Importance of Gum Health

What comes to mind when you think about your oral health? Many people focus on the health of their teeth, but your gums also play an essential role in your oral health and the overall health of your body. Prioritizing your gum health can help prevent gum disease, a serious condition that can result in tooth loss if left untreated. Keep reading to learn more about the causes and symptoms of gum disease, so you can protect your oral health and prevent serious dental problems from occurring.

Understanding the Basics of Gum Disease

Gum disease is also called periodontal disease, and it’s a bacterial infection of the gum tissue and bones that hold your teeth in place. It’s the main cause of tooth loss in adults, although it can be successfully reversed when diagnosed early. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, and it’s identified by inflamed gum tissue that may bleed while you’re brushing or flossing.

If gingivitis isn’t treated, it can progress to periodontitis. During this stage, your gum tissue may start to pull away from your teeth, creating a pocket that traps food debris and plaque. Over time, the bones and soft tissue are irreversibly damaged, and treatment is required to prevent tooth loss and further damage.

Advanced periodontitis is the last stage of gum disease. At this point, the soft tissues and bones that support your teeth are destroyed. This can cause your teeth to loosen or shift in place. If aggressive treatment isn’t successful in saving your teeth, they will likely need to be removed.

If you have advanced periodontitis, an infection called necrotizing periodontal disease can occur, leading to the death of connecting bone and gum tissue. It’s common in people who use tobacco products or those who have compromised immune systems.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease and bleeding gums. Plaque is a thick film of bacteria that forms on your teeth daily, even after brushing and flossing. If plaque remains on your teeth, it hardens into tartar. The bacteria found in plaque and tartar can spread beneath the gum line, producing toxins that cause inflammation and irritation, leading to gingivitis.

There are also many lifestyle factors that can increase your risk of gum disease. Here’s a closer look at each:

  • Smoking: If you regularly smoke or use tobacco products, it can negatively affect the function of your gum tissue. This can make you more vulnerable to infections, including periodontal disease.
    Hormonal changes: The hormonal changes that occur during puberty, menopause, menstruation, and pregnancy can make your gum tissue more sensitive, making you more susceptible to gingivitis and gum disease.
  • Prescription medications: If you take certain prescription drugs, it may affect the health of your gums. Reduced saliva production is a common side effect of many prescription medications, including anti-angina medications and anticonvulsants. This can leave you with a dry mouth, a condition that encourages the growth of bacteria.
  • Medical conditions: Certain illnesses and diseases, especially those that affect your immune system, can also affect the condition of your gums. Diabetes, HIV, and cancer are just a few examples of conditions that make you more susceptible to infection, including periodontal disease.
  • Family history: If a member of your family had gum disease, you might be at an increased risk of developing the bacterial infection.
  • Stress: Researchers have found that stress might make it more difficult for your body to fight infection, including periodontal disease.
  • Poor oral care: If you don’t brush and floss daily, plaque, bacteria, and tartar can accumulate on your teeth, causing irritation and inflammation. This makes you much more susceptible to bleeding gums and other symptoms of gum disease.

What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?

It’s possible to have gum disease and not know it, especially since it can be painless and symptomless in its early stages. However, if you know what to look for, it’s possible for you to catch gum disease early and take the necessary steps to treat it before it progresses to an advanced stage. Here are some warning signs of gum disease that can signal a potential problem:

  • Gums that bleed easily while brushing and flossing
  • Chronic bad breath or a persistent bad taste in your mouth
  • Gums that are swollen, red, or tender
  • Gums that are starting to recede and pull away from the teeth
  • A change in how your teeth fit together when you bite down
  • Loose teeth
  • A change in the way your dentures fit

If you notice any of these symptoms, we encourage you to call our office to make an appointment with our dentist.

Tips for Preventing Gum Disease

There are many things you can do to improve the health of your teeth and gums and reduce your risk for developing gum disease.

  • Practice good oral hygiene: Maintaining a diligent oral care routine at home is crucial for the health of your teeth and gums. Try to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day. Daily brushing and flossing remove harmful bacteria and plaque, which can contribute to the development of gum disease.
  • Use a mouthwash daily: Rinsing your mouth with mouthwash can wash away any remaining food particles and kill bacteria.
  • See your dentist every six months: Receiving a professional teeth cleaning helps remove plaque and tartar before it can inflame and irritate the gum tissue. During a dental exam, your dentist can assess your gums for any signs of gum disease or other dental problems.
  • Eat a healthy diet: Foods high in sugar and starch can promote plaque development and increase the production of acid, which harms tooth enamel. Eating a diet rich in nutrients can boost immunity and help prevent gum disease.

Remember, it’s much better to have a mouth full of healthy teeth and gums than unsightly gaps from missing teeth and swollen, red gums. In under five minutes a day, you can ensure you diminish your risk for gum disease. It’s worth it!

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