March 4, 2018
Did you know the CDC estimates that nearly 65 million Americans have some form of gum disease? Not only that, but the rate increases with age, and an estimated 70% of people over the age 65 have it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths about gum disease that can prevent you from having great oral health!
Periodontal (gum) disease can be defined as an inflammatory condition that erodes the gums and supporting bone around the teeth. In advanced stages, the teeth can become loose and fall out – even if they’ve never had a cavity. Since teeth are hard to come by, it’s worth it to take care of the ones you have! As a dentist in Chevy Chase, we’re going to clear up five common myths about gum disease so you can have a better understanding of this common condition.
“Gum Disease Hurts”
Much like diabetes, gum disease is a “silent disease,” and isn’t painful. Having said that, tender or bleeding gums in early stages can certainly be uncomfortable, but you won’t feel any sensation from the bone loss associated with later stages. This makes regular dental care even more important because you won’t have pain as an “indicator” that something is wrong.
“Brushing and Flossing Alone Can Prevent It”
Don’t get us wrong – although great hygiene is crucial to managing gum disease, it won’t always prevent it! Heredity, diabetes and smoking are all risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing this condition, regardless of how well you do with brushing and flossing.
“No Cavities, No Gum Disease”
When it comes to their oral health, many people solely focus on whether they have cavities or not and don’t think much about their gums. While the teeth and gums are certainly connected, they’re also separate and distinct. As mentioned before, even a tooth that’s never had decay can become loose and fall out if the structures that support it are damaged. Just because you don’t have cavities doesn’t mean you don’t have gum disease!
“Gum Disease Only Affects the Mouth”
Researchers have found substantial evidence that gum disease can increase the risk for all of the following:
- Heart disease
- Pregnancy Complications
It turns out that making sure your gums are healthy can benefit your entire body!
“Gum Disease Can Be Cured”
The only form of gum disease that can be reversed is gingivitis, which means “inflamed gums.” This is the first stage of the disease and can be “cured” with a professional cleaning and great hygiene at home.
Again, similar to diabetes, later stages of gum disease can only be managed, not cured, but thankfully there are excellent treatment protocols that can stabilize it.
How Can You Know if You Have Gum Disease?
The only way to get a diagnosis is to have a checkup with a Chevy Chase dentist. At this visit, your gums will be examined and your dentist will discuss their findings with you.
But don’t worry! If you do have gum disease, they can recommend treatment options that will give you the best shot at keeping all of your teeth for life.
About the Author
Dr. Ronan Freyne is a general, restorative and cosmetic dentist who is dedicated to providing outstanding dental care to his community. He knows that there’s a lot of misinformation about oral health and always educates his patients so they can be as informed as possible. If you have any questions about gum disease, he can be reached through his website or at (301) 986-0700.
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