At some point in their life, nearly 75 percent of adult Americans will have some form of gum disease. The condition, which can affect just one tooth or many teeth, becomes an increased concern as we age. In its earliest form, gingivitis, the disease does not always present with clear symptoms. Swollen or bleeding gums are often overlooked as the result of “brushing too hard” and the disease is left to progress and cause permanent damage. In fact, a large percentage of gum disease goes untreated because the symptoms aren’t recognized or understood.
While a small percentage of people are genetically predisposed to gum disease, many other factors can cause an increased risk. At our Redlands area practice, we frequently discuss these factors with our patients so they can stay alert for symptoms. They include:
- Age – We are naturally at risk for more oral health or general health problems as we age and this includes our risk for gum disease. Studies have indicated that over 80 percent of the older adult population has periodontitis. This advanced gum infection can lead to bone loss and tooth loss.
- Smoking – Smoking is bad for both overall health as well as oral health. It has been directly linked to oral cancer and gum disease. This is because nicotine deprives healthy tissue of the necessary oxygen it needs. This can eventually cause damage to the gum tissue.
- Hormones – Hormones can affect health in many areas of the body. Girls going through puberty, pregnant women, and women taking hormonal birth control are at an increased risk of gingivitis.
While aging can’t be avoided, patients can take steps to reduce the risk for gum disease. Taking proper care of the teeth and gums can eliminate harmful plaque. Patients are encouraged to stay on top of their oral hygiene as they age. This also includes regular dental visits. By maintaining examinations and cleanings, Dr. Vines is able to identify the early warning signs of gingivitis that may have gone unnoticed. This can allow him to use conservative treatments to stop the spread of the disease and restore oral health.