The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported concerning data on the prevalence of gum disease (periodontal disease) in Americans. More specifically, the data came from a study titled Prevalence of Periodontitis in Adults in the United States. It was published in the official publication of the International and American Associations for Dental Research, which is the Journal of Dental Research.
The study showed 50% of US adults over 30 had gum disease. This figure corresponds to 64.7 million people, and according to the study, the incidences of the disease range from mild to severe. Severe periodontitis, which is a more advanced form, afflicts 70.1 percent of US adults 65 and older.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is when the tissues that support and surround the teeth become infected. It is one of the main causes of tooth loss in the adult population, yet people often don’t know they have it because it’s is painless in the vast majority of cases. Plaque, a sticky layer of bacteria always building up on our teeth, is what causes gum disease.
Signs and Symptoms
You may notice the following warning signs:
- Any change in the way partial dentures fit
- Tender, red, swollen gums
- Gums that bleed easily
- Gum line that recedes (long-tooth)
- Permanent teeth that are becoming separated or loose
- A constant bad taste in your mouth or bad breath
- Any change in your bite
Some factors exacerbate the risk of gum disease. These include:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Poor oral hygiene
- Crooked teeth that are challenging to clean
Of the medication harmful to gums, oral contraceptives, steroids, and certain calcium channel blockers deserve special mention. Cancer therapy medication and some types of anti-epilepsy drugs have been linked to gum disease, as well. Research between gum diseases and systemic diseases is ongoing. Research has indicated a possible link between severe forms of the disease and stroke, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions.
Living with Gum Disease: Outlook
Chronic periodontitis leads to loss of bone and tissue that supports the teeth and tends to get more severe with time. If the disease progresses, you’ll feel your teeth start moving around in your mouth. This form can occur at any age, and is the most common form in the adult population. The disease progresses very slowly. An exception is one particularly dangerous form of chronic periodontitis known as “aggressive” periodontitis. Typical characteristics include rapid loss of bone, tissue, and it can affect the whole mouth or only some areas.
If you are concerned about gum disease, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your dentist. The likelihood of successful treatment is higher when it starts sooner rather than later. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, and typical symptoms are swollen, red gums that bleed easily. However, gingivitis is reversible and a professional cleaning can usually eliminate it. It’s important to brush and floss daily.
Sometimes, gum disease has absolutely no symptoms. Regular periodontal examinations and dental checkups are crucial. Treatment methods depend on the stage of the disease. To keep periodontal disease from recurring or worsening, good dental care at home is essential.
Don’t wait until you lose your teeth to gum disease. Brush your teeth twice a day, eat balanced meals, and clean between your teeth. Schedule regular dental exams and that beautiful smile will never leave your face. For more information on preventing this disease, call one of our dental offices in Hyde Park, Lake Zurich, or Yorkville.