Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth.
Here are some warning signs that can signal a problem:
- gums that bleed easily
- red, swollen, tender gums
- gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- persistent bad breath or bad taste
- permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
Some factors increase the risk of developing gum disease. They are:
- poor oral hygiene
- smoking or chewing tobacco
- crowded teeth that are hard to keep clean
See your dentist if you suspect you have gum disease because the sooner you treat it the better.
Advanced gum disease affects 47.2% of adults over 30 in the United States. It can lead to the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth and it may become more severe over time. If it does, your teeth will feel loose and start moving around in your mouth.
Research between systemic diseases and periodontal diseases is ongoing. Many studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
It is possible to have gum disease and have no warning signs. That is one reason why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important.