Woman pointing at her healthy smile and gums

Show Your Gums Some L-O-V-E

While February is considered the month of love because of Valentine’s Day, it is also National Gum Disease Awareness Month

Yes, it’s time to spread the love to your gums!

National Gum Disease Awareness Month was launched in 2012 by the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry, a non-profit educational and research center dedicated to providing evidence-based clinical training in advanced laser dentistry therapies. 

The purpose of this national and global effort is to raise public awareness of the prevalence and consequences of gum disease, while encouraging patients to take a proactive role in better oral health. 

Get the Lowdown on Gum Health 

Healthy gums are crucial for maintaining good overall oral health, but did you know that gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is THE most common disease in the United States? 

Consider these U.S. stats, as reported by Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease
  • Periodontal disease increases with age, 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease
  • The condition is more common in men than women (56.4% vs 38.4%), those living below the federal poverty level (65.4%), those with less than a high school education (66.9%), and current smokers (64.2%)

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue around teeth. Without treatment, periodontitis can destroy the bone that supports your teeth. This can cause teeth to loosen or lead to tooth loss.”

While gum disease is overly common, what some may not be aware of is the link between periodontitis and other, very serious illnesses and conditions including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and more.

What are the Causes & Types of Gum Disease? 

When a patient does not take proper care of their mouth and teeth,  bacteria forms, which can then cause infections and inflammation, potentially leading to gum disease.

Bacteria that stays on teeth long enough results in a film called plaque. When plaque hardens, it becomes tartar (also called calculus), which can build up below the gum line, resulting in periodontal diseases.

Without proper maintenance and the intervention of a dental health professional, tartar buildup can cause gingivitis and other gum disease. Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease where gums can become swollen and red, and may even bleed. 

With more serious forms of periodontitis, gums can pull away from the tooth, bone can be lost, and the teeth may loosen or even fall out. 

Understanding Gum Disease Warning Signs

If you look in the mirror at your teeth, how do your gums look? 

Healthy gums are firm, fit snugly around teeth, and may range in color from light pink to dark pink, and even brown. 

If the appearance of your gums is otherwise or if you’re having any pain in your mouth or gum area, check out these symptoms of periodontitis according to the Mayo Clinic: 

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Bright red, dark red or dark purple gums
  • Gums that feel tender when touched
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • A toothbrush that looks pink after brushing your teeth
  • Spitting out blood when brushing or flossing your teeth
  • Persistent bad breath 
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth or loss of teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • New spaces that develop between your teeth that look like black triangles
  • Gums that pull away from your teeth, making your teeth look longer than usual, called receding gums
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

The Prevention & Treatments of Gum Disease 

Good oral hygiene and regular professional cleaning can help control the buildup of plaque. 

Here are some tips to help prevent or control gum disease:

  1. Brush and floss every day at least two times per day to remove the bacteria that cause gum disease. Make sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day for at least two minutes every time! 
  2. See a dentist regularly—at least twice a year for checkups and  cleanings   
  3. Refrain from smoking or chewing tobacco
  4. Cut back on sugary and starchy foods
  5. Ensure diabetes is controlled properly
  6. Address xerostomia (dry mouth), which can contribute to a higher risk of gum disease

Depending on the severity of the gum disease, there are a variety of treatments, which can include nonsurgical therapies such as deep professional cleanings or medications that control bacterial growth to surgery that restores supportive tissues. 

Surgical procedures may include flap surgery/pocket reduction surgery, bone grafts, soft tissue grafts, guided tissue regeneration, and bone surgery.

Wilton Smiles—Your Professional Oral Care Partner to Combat Gum Diseas

The dedicated and trusted team here at Wilton Smiles is committed to helping keep your mouth and gums healthy during National Gum Disease Awareness Month AND all year long.

We encourage our patients to be proactive in prioritizing gum health, and rest assured, we’re here to provide dental support to help maintain exceptional oral health!

If you’re experiencing potential symptoms of gum disease or have other questions related to your dental care, contact us and let’s schedule your next visit! 

Source(s):

Fight Gum Disease

CDC

Mayo Clinic

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