Drs. Winter, Baradarian, Sivitz

Gum Disease: Facts About Bleeding Gums

FALLACY: Tooth loss is a natural part of aging.
FACT: With good oral hygiene and regular professional care, your teeth are meant to last a lifetime. However, if left untreated, periodontal (gum) disease can lead to tooth loss. It is the primary cause of tooth loss in adults 35 and over.

FALLACY: People who have gum disease are "dirty" and don't brush their teeth.
FACT: Research proves that up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Once diagnosed, gum treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.

FALLACY: Gum disease doesn't affect overall health.
FACT: Emerging research links periodontal disease to other health problems including heart and respiratory diseases; preterm, low birth weight babies; stroke; osteoporosis; and diabetes.

FALLACY: Gum disease is a minor infection.
FACT: The mass of tissue in the oral cavity is equivalent to the skin on your arm that extends from the wrist to the elbow. Gum disease is not a small infection. If this area was red, swollen, and infected, you would visit the doctor as soon as possible. In a worst-case scenario, untreated gum disease could lead to tooth loss and a patient needing dentures. Dentures change your appearance, causes bad breath, and affects your ability to effectively chew food.

FALLACY: Bleeding gums are normal.
FACT: Bleeding gums are one of nine warning signs of gum disease. Other signs of gum disease include: red, swollen or tender gums; sores in your mouth; gums that have pulled away from the teeth; persistent bad breath; pus between the teeth and gums (leaving bad breath); loose or separating teeth; a change in the way the teeth fit together; and a change in the fit of partial dentures.

FALLACY: Gum disease affects all races and ethnicities equally.
FACT: While the severity may change, gum disease does affect all races and ethnicities.

FALLACY: Treatment for gum disease is painful.
FACT: Most gum treatments are not painful and do not cause patients to miss work or remain uncomfortable afterwards. New understanding of how best to use non-steroidal analgesics (ibuprofen, for example) go a long way to making gum treatment comfortable. When indicated, gum laser treatments (LANAP) are virtually painless. Our goal is to keep patients functioning at all times, while treating their gum disease and improving their oral health.

FALLACY: Gum disease is easy to identify, even in its early stages, so my dentist would tell me if I had it.
FACT: Millions of people don't know they have this serious infection that can lead to tooth loss if not treated. You should always get involved in your dental care, so that problems are detected in the early stages. You should inform your dentist if any signs of gum disease are present; or if any changes in your overall health or medications occurred in between visits. Most importantly, you should ask your dentist about your periodontal health and what method was used to evaluate its condition. Remember to ask about the depths of your periodontal pockets and have they changed. This level of participation enables you to work in a team approach with your dentist to identify subtle changes that may occur in the oral cavity.

FALLACY: Once teeth are lost, the only treatment options are crowns, bridges or dentures.
FACT: Dental implants are a permanent tooth-replacement option for teeth lost to trauma, injury or periodontal disease. Dental implants are natural looking and feel so much like teeth that many patients forget they are not real.

FALLACY: Cavities are the number-one cause of tooth loss.
FACT: Periodontal disease is the number-one cause of tooth loss. According to the 1996 American Dental Association/Colgate survey, U.S. dentists say gum disease is a more pressing oral health concern than tooth decay by a 2-to-1 margin.

FALLACY: Because gum disease is a bacterial infection, antibiotics can be used to treat it.
FACT: Research demonstrates that antibiotics can be a helpful adjunct to treating periodontal disease, but most often antibiotics treat the symptom and not the cause of gum problems. Antibiotics should not be used indiscriminately because of the possibility that resistant strains of bacteria could develop. So while antibiotics are used in conjunction to treating gum disease, they are not the first line of treatment when attacking a periodontal condition.

FALLACY: Pregnant women should skip professional dental checkups.
FACT: Like other organs and tissues in the body, teeth and gums are affected during pregnancy. In order to decrease the risk of damaging the gums and tissues surrounding the teeth, pregnant women should schedule an appointment for a periodontal evaluation. Untreated gum disease in pregnant women can lead to lower birth weights and premature births.

Gum disease is a treatable problem. The ramifications of untreated gum problems are too great to ignore, even if nothing “bothers” the patient. Only a dental professional can determine the state of your periodontal health.

Tags: 3D cone imaging, sinus grafts, periodontics, dental implants, laser gum surgery, dentist, dental practice, gum treatment. LANAP, bleeding gums, periodontal disease

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