Do your gums bleed when you brush your teeth? Do you catch yourself needing a mint throughout the day? These things are common, but not are big signs of a problem lurking in your mouth. Most people recognize the importance of taking care of their teeth, however taking care of your gums – the actual tissue holding your teeth into place – is also important. When infection settles into the gums, we call that periodontal disease, and it is extremely common. According to the American Dental Association, 75% of adult patients have some form of periodontal (or gum) disease. That doesn’t mean that it is no big deal. There are some major health issues that may arise from periodontal disease, including:
- Heart disease
- Stomach ulcers
- Pneumonia and other respiratory diseases
- Chronic kidney disease
- Difficulties during pregnancy, early term births, and low birth weights
- And many others!
Recent studies suggest that pregnant women with gum disease are seven times more likely to deliver preterm, low birth weight babies. New research finds that men with gum disease have a higher risk of certain cancers: men which gum disease are 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop blood cancers. For this reason, periodontal disease can be the first warning sign of the body being out of balance leading to more serious problems.
There are also additional factors that may lead to a higher risk of gum disease. These include smoking or chewing tobacco, puberty and menopause in women, pregnancy, stress or depression, clenching or grinding your teeth, diabetes, osteoporosis, poor nutrition and diet, obesity, even some medications.
Some of the warning signs you should look for:
- Do your gums bleed easily?
- Are your gums red, swollen, or tender?
- Have your gums pulled away from your teeth?
- Do you have severe bad breath and bad breath that just won’t go away?
- Do you have a constant bad taste in your mouth?
- Do you have teeth that are loose or separating?
- Has there been any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down?
- Have you had any change in the fit of your dentures?
If you said yes to any of these questions, it’s time to visit your dentist!