If your gums ever bleed when brushing your teeth or flossing, you are not alone. According to research conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), over half of Americans over 30 have bleeding gums, a common symptom of early-stage gum disease. Did you know that gum disease can negatively impact more than just your dental health? As a dentist in The Woodlands explains below, recent research suggests gum disease can not only lead to losing teeth, but losing your mental faculties as well.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known medically as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues in the mouth that hold teeth in place. The disease is caused by the bacteria in plaque, which can accumulate in the mouth over time and harden onto teeth.
If gum disease is allowed to progress to advanced stages, it can lead to bleeding gums, painful chewing problems, and tooth loss.
Common symptoms of gum disease include:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Bleeding gums, especially when brushing
- Receding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Pus emanating from between the teeth and gums
- Bite problems caused by shifting teeth
How Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s are Linked
New research has revealed a strong link between Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, and gum disease. Indeed, teams at several universities and a pharmaceutical firm have found that P. gingivalis, the main bacterium involved in gum disease, invades and inflames the regions of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s.
The scientists believe that the inflammation caused by gum disease allows P. gingivalis and other oral bacteria to slip into the bloodstream and enter other organs – in this case, the brain. While the emerging hypotheses offer promising leads for future medicine and further research, it also underlines the importance of preventing gum disease.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
Although the damage caused by gum disease can often be treated and reversed if caught in the early stages, preventing the disease altogether is the best strategy for maintaining a healthy smile.
Here are 3 simple tips to help prevent gum disease:
- Brush Thoroughly – This may seem obvious, but too many adults skip brushing their teeth when they are tired or do not brush thoroughly enough. Remove plaque from your teeth by brushing twice a day for a full two minutes each time and flossing at least once a day.
- Kick the Habit – Smoking or chewing tobacco is a major cause of gum disease.
- Routine Dental Checkups – Visit the dentist every six months for a routine dental exam and cleaning. Only a professional cleaning from a dentist or dental hygienist can remove plaque that has hardened into tartar and can contribute to gum disease.
Help keep your mind and body whole well into your golden years by diligently practicing good oral hygiene and calling a dentist in The Woodlands today.
About the Author
With over 30 years of experience, Dr. Johnny Taylor understands the importance of preventing dental problems before they develop or worsen – that is why he offers a wide range of preventive treatments at his office in The Woodlands. Patients concerned about gum disease can contact Dr. Taylor via his website or by calling 281-394-0428.