December 26, 2020
Gum disease is a condition that can manifest in a few different ways, not all of them immediately noticeable or painful. The most familiar symptoms — bleeding or tender gums, overly sensitive teeth, difficulty chewing — sometimes vanish soon after they appear. Other symptoms, like persistent bad breath, may not be considered as a sign of developing gingivitis. Many people therefore don’t seek treatment to take care of these conditions.
That mistake can prove to be costly. Gingivitis and periodontitis are conditions that can wreak havoc on one’s teeth, gums, and jawbone. More gravely, they can have serious effects on internal organs and blood vessels in body regions besides the mouth.
Delaying treatment for gum disease can lead to profound consequences that are more far-reaching than many sufferers realize. Here are five compelling reasons to seek treatment for gingivitis as soon as you can:
Periodontal disease happens in four stages. The first one is gingivitis, and this is the only stage when it’s still possible to reverse the effects. Bleeding gums are a common symptom of gingivitis, but other signs of the disease (bad breath or receding gum lines) aren’t painful, which is why many people don’t seek treatment. The final three stages — simply defined as slight, moderate, and advanced periodontal disease — aren’t reversible, though they may be manageable.
Bacteria become much more combative during the second stage of gum disease. The infection spreads to the bone matter inside your mouth, eventually attacking the jawbone and displacing your teeth. This can lead to gaps between your teeth or even permanent tooth loss.
When one's gums get infected during periodontitis, the jaw starts to erode and loosen teeth. As it gets worse, the gum line starts to recede, getting farther away from the jawbone and teeth. Even the slightest misalignment between teeth, jaws, and gums can cause severe discomfort when chewing or biting down, making it painful to eat.
Infected bacteria caused by gum disease doesn’t just stay in the mouth. The bacteria can enter the body’s bloodstream and travel to other organs that it can infect. Heart vessels and valves are especially susceptible to these bacterial infections. Researchers have found that gingivitis and periodontitis are often precursors to strokes, heart attacks, heart diseases, and other serious conditions. Patients with high cholesterol could develop plaque with traces of oral bacteria in their arteries, which may also result in a catastrophic heart event.
Inflammation of the gums is a symptom of gingivitis. Many medical researchers believe that chronic gingival inflammation is linked through the bloodstream to more serious health conditions. Besides the heart problems above, untreated gingivitis is thought to contribute to diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and respiratory issues.
Recent studies suggest there may even be a link between gum disease and dementia-related afflictions, including Alzheimer's disease.
Stop gingivitis from getting more serious. If you’re experiencing persistent symptoms of gum disease, call your dentist to schedule treatment.