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510 N. Washington St, Suite 301, Falls Church, VA 22046

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Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

Cavities and tooth decay are very common tooth ailments, and most people are aware of their impact on their dental health. For instance, you know that regular brushing and flossing can help you avoid cavities. However, there is another disease that causes more dental harm and pain when left untreated; gum disease. As this condition affects more than 75 percent of adults in the U.S., the only way to truly prevent it is to learn as much as you can about gum disease.

Your Health Under the Influence of Gum Disease

In some cases, bleeding gums after brushing and flossing your teeth could be the result of brushing too hard or with the wrong toothbrush. However, this symptom could also be a sign of something more seriously wrong with your gums and the health of your mouth. Bleeding gums are one of the first and most noticeable signs of gum disease, a serious dental condition that can affect the stability and attachment of your gums to your teeth and your teeth to your jaw.

Also referred to as periodontitis, gum disease occurs when the gum tissue becomes inflamed and, in some cases, infected. The primary culprit in these cases is plaque and other bacteria. Plaque forms when bacteria attack sweet or starchy remnants of food or drink on your teeth. Over time, plaque on your teeth can allow bacteria to attack your tooth enamel and gum tissue, leading to inflammation in the gum tissue that supports your teeth. Over time, this inflammation can cause serious dental and physical health problems for you and your family.

Gum disease is incredibly common in the U.S., which makes it even more important to understand what you can do to protect your gums. Over 60 percent of teenagers have some form of gum disease. Of the 75 percent of adults that have gum disease, only 15 percent are aware that they have it, leading to extensive problems.

When you have gingivitis which is the first stage of gum disease, you can reverse the symptoms with a quality, consistent dental care routine. However, if left to progress unchecked, gingivitis will turn into periodontal disease which leads to tooth loss and irreversible damage to the mouth. The good news is that gingivitis is easy to fix and you’ll find out how!

What Can Cause Periodontal Disease?

While all of the specific causes of gum disease are still always being updated, poor dental hygiene is usually a contributing factor in the development of this serious dental condition. Certain other conditions may also play an important contributing role in gum disease:

  • People who have serious medical conditions that affect the immune system are more likely to develop periodontitis than healthy individuals. These conditions can range from cancer to HIV and even diabetes. When an individual has one of these conditions their inability to fight off infections makes them more susceptible to gum disease.
  • Tobacco use is another risk factor that can increase your chance of periodontal disease. Tobacco products, whether chewed or smoked, introduce toxins to the mouth which limit the body’s ability to fight off infections.
  • Changes in the balance of hormones during pregnancy, puberty, menstruation or menopause can sometimes put patients at higher risk of gum disease or gingivitis because it tends to make the gums more sensitive.
  • Medications used to treat angina or convulsions can also increase the risk of dry mouth. A lack of saliva can allow bacteria to build up on the teeth and inside the mouth, which can significantly increase the risk of gum disease.
  • Genetic factors also play a role in creating a predisposition for this serious dental condition. More than 30 percent of people that are impacted by gum disease have a genetic predisposition. It’s vital that you visit with your dentist if this happens to you.
  • Neglecting to brush and floss your teeth regularly and avoiding the dentist for regular cleanings is probably one of the top reasons why gum disease takes hold in the first place.

Regular visits to your dentist can ensure that the early warning signs of gingivitis and gum disease are identified and that your treatment can begin as soon as possible.

Primary Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

As you may now suspect, gum disease moves slowly and often silently, making it difficult to detect. However, if you know what to look for and when to consult your dentist, you stand a much better chance of identifying gingivitis when it’s just starting. Some of the symptoms to look for include the following:

  • Redness or sensitivity of the gums could happen before or after brushing, flossing and eating.
  • Receding gums
  • Looseness of some teeth
  • Bleeding from the gums and around the teeth
  • An unpleasant taste inside your mouth
  • Chronic and severe bad breath
  • Changes in the way your teeth feel when you bite or chew

Know the Facts About Periodontal Disease to Protect Your Dental Health

Now that you are well versed on gingivitis, let’s talk about periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is what happens when you don’t treat gingivitis. As the inflammation from gingivitis worsens and spreads inside your gums, it can cause pockets of infection that can attack the ligaments and connective tissues that hold teeth in place and can even affect bone density in the jaw.

Plaque will then start to enter underneath the gum and cause more irritation and infection, leading the bone and tissue to degrade and your teeth to become loose. They may need to be removed at this point, and the damage done to the underlying structures, such as the ligaments, the gums and the jawbone, is irreversible.

Periodontitis can occur from this process and can also be brought about by other systemic diseases, like a heart ailment, diabetes or a respiratory disease. Certain forms of periodontitis can have a much more serious or fast-moving effect on your health and your risk for developing them depends on a number of factors.

  • Chronic periodontitis is most common among otherwise healthy individuals. It’s a slow, but constant progression of inflammation in the supporting tissues and ligaments.
  • Aggressive periodontitis moves much more quickly and usually affects otherwise healthy individuals.
  • Necrotizing periodontitis typically affects people with severe immune system disorders and results in the death of tissues, bone and ligaments that make up the structural support for teeth inside the jaw.

Tips for Preventing the Occurrence and Progression of Gum Disease

Some of the most effective strategies for preventing gum disease and for reversing the progress of gingivitis are:

  • Brush at least twice daily and floss at least once daily. This will reduce the amount of fuel you provide for the bacteria responsible for gum disease.
  • Rinse with water or with a mouthwash after any sugary drinks or snacks. You should also limit your intake of sugary, processed foods if at all possible. A diet of whole foods is much more beneficial for your oral and overall health.
  • Visit your dentist for annual checkups and teeth cleanings.

Protect Yourself from the Horrors of Gum Disease

A lifetime of healthy teeth and gums is worth the time it takes for you to brush and floss your teeth daily and visit your dentist at least twice a year. Keep in mind that you need to be diligent and pay attention to the warning signs. If you need a dentist, our dental professionals would be delighted to work with you to create a prevention plan or to treat periodontal disease.

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