When it comes to gum disease and gingivitis, there’s often a bit of confusion between the two. Are they the same thing or are they different? Can they be treated the same way or not? What does it mean if you’re told you have one or the other? Not to worry, our dental office in Sacramento is here to help answer your questions.
A Closer Look a Gum Disease
Gum disease is ultimately a term used to describe an infection in the gums caused by a buildup of plaque that wiggled its way under the gum line. But gum disease itself has three stages that are all still commonly referred to as gum disease — gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis.
Gingivitis is the earliest and most mild form of gum disease. When caught early gingivitis can be treated successfully and any damage that may have occurred can be reversed.
The second stage of gum disease occurs if gingivitis is not caught and treated quickly. Known as periodontitis, this more severe stage of gum disease not only affects the gums but also the bones and tissues that hold teeth in place. Treatment may not reverse any damage already done but can help it from progressing any further.
Advanced periodontitis is more severe yet and can’t be reversed. In this stage, the plaque buildup has caused substantial damage to the bone and tissues. Teeth may feel loose or appear to have shifted position and they may even fall out.
How to Know if You Have Gum Disease
In its early stages gum disease may not show any signs or symptoms, or at least not any that might raise concern. That’s one reason knowing all the symptoms of gum disease is important.
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Pain when chewing
- Receding gums
- Swollen, red gums
How Gum Disease Affects the Body
We already know that gum disease may lead to tooth loss if not caught and treated early, but gum disease has also been linked to several serious systemic concerns including:
- Lung disease
- Heart attacks
There’s a lot you can do to help protect yourself against gum disease including avoiding some of the known factors that increase the risk of developing it, such as using tobacco. You should also brush and floss everyday and maintain appointments with your dentist in Sacramento every six months.
We’re always welcoming new patients at our Sacramento dental office and would love to see you! We welcome you to call us today to schedule an appointment.
Our Sacramento dental office cares for patients throughout all stages of life and understands that patients of different ages have different needs. We also want our patients to know that oral health risks change with every birthday. Today, we focus on those risks that can affect the senior population.
- Discolored Teeth – Teeth can begin to lose a bit of luster and take on a darkened appearance. This typically happens because the top protective layer of tooth enamel can become thinner as we age. With this layer gone, the insides of teeth become more visible. Since the color of the inner tooth is often dark and a bit yellow in color, teeth also look yellow or dark.
- Dry Mouth – There are numerous things that can cause dry mouth, but the most common culprit for seniors is medication. Many medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, list dry mouth as a potential side effect. When the mouth becomes dry there isn’t enough saliva to wash away decay-causing bacteria leaving teeth at risk for cavities, the need for a root canal, or even tooth loss if left untreated.
- Tooth Loss – It’s a common misconception that it’s inevitable that we’re all going to lose our teeth, or at least some of them, due to aging. But this doesn’t have to be the case. The best way to protect teeth and keep them strong and healthy is to brush and floss regularly and see the dentist in Sacramento twice a year.
- Gum Disease – Gum disease is basically an infection below the gum line that results in red, inflamed gums and can lead to tooth loss. However, gum disease can also increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and as recent research suggests, Alzheimer’s disease. While there’s still more work to be done before scientists can truly say if gum disease is related to Alzheimer’s, one study published in Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy strongly correlates diseases with levels of inflammation, including gum disease, to Alzheimer’s.
Protect Your Teeth, Lower the Risk
Even though you can’t fight the aging process, and there’s still nothing you can do to keep from getting older, there are ways you can protect your oral health and reduce the risk of developing some of the most common oral health problems that affect seniors.
- Brush and floss every day
- See your dentist bi-annually
- Drink plenty of water, especially if you have dry mouth
- Talk with your dental team about any changes in your mouth
If it’s time to make your oral health a priority so you can have a strong, healthy smile for a lifetime, we welcome you to call our dental office in Sacramento to schedule an appointment.
You may be wondering why your dentist in Sacramento is choosing to talk about heart health. As a dedicated member of your medical team, we’re not only concerned with keeping your teeth and gums healthy, but rather we’re committed to keeping your whole body healthy. And it just so happens that your oral health plays a key role in overall wellness, including heart health. So during this American Heart Health Month, we want to provide all of our patients with important information on how keeping your smile in tip-top shape can help you maintain a healthy body.
How Does Dentistry Play a Role?
As research continues to advance what we know about heart disease, a strong correlation between oral health and heart health has been discovered. This link begins with gum health and, more specifically, gum disease. Gum disease is essentially an infection in the gum tissue that can lead to tooth loss. But perhaps what’s more concerning is that this infection has a direct route to the bloodstream. If it spreads, your body will produce excessive amounts of C-reactive protein (CRP), which is one of the known indicators of cardiovascular disease. Elevated levels of CRP can lead to some serious health issues including:
- Inflamed arteries
- Blood clots
- Heart attacks
How to Avoid Gum Disease
The best way to avoid gum disease and the dangerous effects it can have on your heart is to prevent it by brushing and flossing your teeth regularly. It’s also crucial to visit your Sacramento dentist twice a year to remove buildup that your toothbrush just can’t touch.
Know the Signs
One of the scariest things about gum disease is that it can develop rapidly before you even suspect a problem. It is treatable and success is more likely if caught in the early stages. Knowing this, you should be aware of some early signs of gum disease so that you can seek treatment early. Some things to look out for include:
If you recognize any of the signs above, or it’s been more than six months since your last dental cleaning, call our dental office in Sacramento to schedule an appointment. Your smile and your heart will thank you.