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Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

What Is Periodontal Disease?

What do you think is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults older than 30? If you guessed gum disease, you’re correct. Periodontal disease is also called gum disease, and it’s an infection of the gums, bones, and other ligaments that provide structure and support for your teeth. It’s important to recognize the early signs of gum disease, so you can receive prompt treatment. Early treatment can make all the difference in restoring your oral health or suffering from tooth loss.

An Overview of Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Periodontal disease is the general term used to describe gum disease. A mild form of gum disease, gingivitis is described as the inflammation of the gums as a result of the accumulation of plaque and bacteria. During this phase, it’s still possible to reverse the effects of the condition if you resume a diligent brushing and flossing routine and receive regular professional cleanings.

Advanced periodontal disease is called periodontitis. At this stage, pockets have developed where your gum tissue has pulled away from your teeth. This allows bacteria to build up and debris to become trapped, resulting in an infection. Periodontitis causes permanent damage to your teeth and the supporting structures, which can lead to tooth loss.

Factors That Increase Your Risk of Gum Disease

Plaque is the main cause of gingivitis and bleeding gums. Plaque is a sticky, nearly colorless deposit that forms on your teeth each day. Everyone experiences plaque development since bacteria naturally occur in our mouths. These bacteria use the sugars and starches in the foods you eat to grow.

Plaque is usually soft and can be removed each time you brush and floss, but it can quickly harden into calculus, which is commonly called tartar. Tartar is a much harder substance and can only be removed during a professional cleaning. If not removed, the bacteria in plaque and tartar can accumulate between your teeth and below the gum line. This irritates and inflames your gum tissue, leading to the symptoms of gum disease.

In addition to the bacteria in plaque and tartar, these risk factors can also negatively affect the health of your gums:

  • Inadequate oral hygiene: Improper brushing and flossing habits allow plaque and tartar to accumulate on your teeth. These harmful substances release toxins that infect and inflame your gums. Similarly, failing to visit your dentist twice a year for cleanings and exams can also increase your risk of gum disease.
  • Genetics: Your family history plays a role in gum disease, making some people more likely to develop it in comparison to people without a family history.
  • Taking certain medications: A variety of prescription medications cause dry mouth as a side effect. If your mouth isn’t producing sufficient saliva, it’s more difficult to wash food debris from your teeth. This can contribute to an increase in plaque and bacteria in your mouth. Blood pressure medication, seizure medication, and heart medication are a few examples of prescription drugs that can cause dry mouth.
  • Smoking: Using tobacco products can weaken your body’s ability to fight against infections. This can make it very difficult for your gum tissue to heal and repair itself.
  • Stress: If you’re experiencing high levels of stress, it’s more difficult for your body to prevent infection. This includes infections from the toxins produced by plaque and tartar.
  • Medical conditions: Underlying illnesses and diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and HIV, can also influence the health of your gums. These health problems that affect your immune system make you more susceptible to infections, such as those that cause gingivitis.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal fluctuations, such as those that occur during pregnancy, menopause, and menstruation, can cause an inflammatory response that affects the health of your gums.

What Are the Warning Signs of Gum Disease?

The symptoms of gum disease are surprisingly easy to overlook. Not only is the condition often painless when it first develops, but it also only causes mild symptoms at first that are easy to ignore. Knowing what to look for is the best way to catch gum disease before it leads to tooth loss. Keep a sharp eye out for these warning signs of gum disease:

  • Gums that bleed easily, especially after brushing and flossing
  • Puffy, red gums that are tender to touch
  • Gums that are starting to recede and pull away from the teeth
  • Chronic bad breath or a constant bad taste in your mouth
  • A difference in the fit of your dentures
  • A change in how your teeth fit together when you bite down
  • Shifting or loose teeth

If you’re wondering about the health of your gums, please schedule a checkup at our office. Our dentist will examine your gums carefully and determine whether you have gum disease.

Ways You Can Prevent Gum Disease

Even if you have several risk factors for gum disease, it’s possible to prevent the disease from developing. Follow these tips to reduce your risk:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day, for two minutes each session. Make sure to brush along your gum line to fully remove food particles and plaque. If you can’t brush after every meal, try to rinse your mouth with water after eating.
  • Floss daily between each tooth to prevent the development of tartar.
  • Rinse with mouthwash after brushing to remove any leftover food particles you might have missed while brushing.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Try to avoid acidic, sugary foods and drinks that can erode your tooth enamel. Instead, choose nutrient-rich foods that provide all of the nutrients you need to benefit the health of your teeth and gums, including calcium and vitamins A and C.

Perhaps most importantly, remember to schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings. Only your dentist or hygienist can remove tartar from your teeth and gum line. A checkup performed by your dentist plays an important role in the early detection and treatment of gum disease.

Gum disease does not have to be something you experience if you know how to care for your mouth properly.

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