What’s The Deal with Gum Disease?

What Causes Gum Disease?

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Gum disease is caused by bacteria, mostly Porphyromonas gingivalis. This bacterium likes the airless environment below your gum line. Once there, it begins to cause irritation in your gum and bone tissue. This inflammation causes the red, swollen, tender gums that bleed during flossing and are a classic hallmark of periodontitis. Over time, chronic inflammation wears down your gum tissue and creates pockets between your gums and teeth. These pockets fill with even more bacteria and the cycle continues. Teeth start to become loose and can even come out—gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

What Else Can Gum Disease Affect?

Periodontal disease has been linked to several different systemic disease and health problems. Gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, Alzheimer’s, complications in pregnancy and diabetes, and even obesity. The microbes that cause gum disease can cause inflammation elsewhere in the body, and chronic inflammation contributes to a host of medical issues. Conversely, treating gum disease improves health outcomes for patients across the board, and can mean the difference between keeping and losing teeth.

How Can I Fight Gum Disease?

Talk to Dr. Van Wicklen about your health history and home oral-care routine. Do you brush at least twice a day, for at least two minutes each time? Do you floss nightly before brushing? Are you flossing properly? This illustrated guide to flossing may help. Has Dr. Van Wicklen recommended you use mouthwash? If you have difficulty performing oral care due to mobility issues or problems cleaning dental work, talk to any of our office staff about ways to change your routine. There are brushes and flossing products available for any situation.

Additionally, visit us every six months for a checkup and cleaning. If you have experienced any of the symptoms of gum disease—chronic bad breath, tender gums that bleed during brushing or flossing, pain while chewing, or sensitive teeth—come in for an appointment immediately. Call our Austin dentist office today at (512) 448-3131 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Steven Van Wicklen.