Gum disease—also called periodontal disease—is an oral health condition that has a greater impact on your smile than many people think. The beginning stages of gum disease, called gingivitis, are common, while older Americans tend to have more advanced periodontal disease.
What are the consequences of ignoring gum disease? The ramifications can affect more than your smile. Here’s what happens when gum disease is ignored and how it can affect your oral and bodily health!
Chronic Bad Breath
Gingivitis often begins with the noticeable symptom of chronic bad breath. You or your partner may notice that your breath is constantly off, and it may get worse as gum disease goes untreated. You may brush, floss, and use mouthwash, but the bad breath never completely goes away.
Bad breath is often the result of poor oral hygiene which can cause food and bacteria to
accumulate between teeth and cause gum inflammation . Eventually, these bacteria will lead to pockets of infection around the gumline, which can not only cause bad breath, but contribute to a bad taste in the mouth as well.
As gum disease progresses, you may begin to notice your gums receding. Receding gums can expose dentin—the softer layer of your tooth beneath the enamel—and even tooth roots.
You may notice that your teeth look longer, or begin to see discoloration near your gumline. When gums pull back from the teeth in this way, the result isn’t just longer-looking teeth, but sensitive teeth as well . While gum recession has a few causes, including brushing too harshly, one of the most common is gum disease!
In its latter stages, periodontal disease can weaken the ligaments, or connective tissue, that help anchor teeth in place. The continuing infection will cause the pockets of bacteria to get larger, and teeth may begin to feel loose or feel as though they are shifting in your mouth.
Loose teeth can not only fit together differently, but also make it difficult or uncomfortable to chew. Gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, and without treatment, this devastating oral health problem could eventually cost you your smile.
Other Health Complications
Gum disease doesn’t just affect your teeth. Research has linked bacteria from gum disease to other inflammatory conditions in the body, including heart disease, diabetes, and even certain types of cancer . Periodontal disease also poses particular risks for expecting mothers—active gum inflammation has been associated with an increased risk for delivering babies prematurely as well as babies with a low birth weight .
There Is Treatment for Gum Disease!
Preventable and treatable, periodontal disease isn’t a condition you have to live with. Your dentist can detect the early stages of gingivitis to help you reverse gum inflammation, and even for those with active periodontal disease, there is treatment. Get in touch with your dentist today to get a screening for gum disease!