Gum disease, when left untreated, can cause a host of dental problems. In fact, gum disease is one of the biggest factors in tooth loss. As the disease undermines the tooth’s support structure, the tooth becomes loose and weak. Eventually, the tooth falls out or is pulled out or broken by forces that would not normally harm your teeth. To prevent advanced gum disease from ruining your smile, watch out for these four signs that you may have a problem.
Bleeding gums is the first sign of gum disease. Most people initially notice their gums bleeding when they brush their teeth. If brush your teeth too hard, causing damage to the gums, you can expect them to bleed. This is not necessarily a sign of gum disease, but may lead to gum disease if you continue to do it. When gently brushing your teeth with a soft brush, however, you should not experience bleeding. If you do, then there is a good chance you have developed early stages of gum disease. Bleeding gums can also be a sign of other illnesses, such as diabetes or blood clotting disorders, so make sure to see a health professional as soon as you notice the bleeding.
If your gums are healthy, they should be a uniform pink color and a firm texture. If your gums look red or purple or appear swollen it is a sign of gum disease. Look closely at the areas around and between your teeth. In early stages of gum disease these areas are the first to show signs. If they are red and puffy you should visit a dentist as soon as possible.
As gum disease advances it can move into the surround bones and ligaments. The infection damages the bone and ligament tissue, undermining the support structure of your teeth. In a healthy adult, the teeth should be firm and stable. If you can wiggle any of your teeth it is a sign that the supporting tissue has been damaged. Ignoring this sign of gum disease almost guarantees tooth loss.
There are many causes of bad breath; bacteria on the tongue, kidney disease, poor diet and gum disease are just some of the causes. Recent research suggests that 90% of bad breath is caused by oral bacteria. Plaque buildup under the gums is one of the main causes. Your dentist offers treatments that can reduce or eliminate this buildup. Along with traditional cleaning methods, lasers can be used to target and remove plaque. Gums and mints may cover up the bad breath, but they do not treat the underlying cause. It may be embarrassing to talk about, but ignoring persistent bad breath could put your health at risk.
If you notice any of these signs of gum disease, visit your dentist as soon as possible. Early intervention can save your teeth and prevent the need for more costly treatments in the future.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that results in high blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, you are susceptible to a number of related conditions, including an increased risk of oral health problems. Understanding this increased risk can help you stave off oral disease and keep your teeth healthy.
One of the most common oral complications found in patients with diabetes is gum disease. There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the inflammation of gum tissue. As the disease progresses it can cause the gums to bleed, appear red and puffy and become painful or tender. The gums pull away from the teeth, creating pockets where plaque and bacteria accumulate. If your gums bleed when you gently brush them with a soft toothbrush, you may have gingivitis.
When gingivitis is left untreated, it develops into periodontitis. At this stage, the infection causes damage to the jawbone and ligaments that support the teeth, making them loose. The gum tissue further recedes, leading to exposed nerve endings that can make the teeth very sensitive. If you have loose teeth that are extremely sensitive, you may be suffering from periodontitis.
There are several reasons why a person with diabetes has an increased risk of gum disease. If you are diabetic, your saliva may contain increased amounts of sugar. This extra sugar makes it easier for bacteria to thrive inside your mouth. When your diabetes is poorly controlled, you are even more susceptible to these bacteria, because you heal more slowly. People with diabetes are also prone to dry mouth. Dry mouth can irritate the gums. The lack of saliva to wash away bacteria allows them to set into the irritated gum tissue, promoting further gum disease.
Thrush is a fungal infection common in people with diabetes. It presents as white sores on the mouth and tongue. Underneath the white patches, you see red tissue that bleeds easily. People with diabetes are more susceptible to thrust because they frequently take antibiotics. Your mouth maintains a natural balance of bacteria and fungus. If antibiotics kill too many bacteria, the fungus is able multiply more easily, leading to fungal infection. High blood sugar also contributes to the spread of thrush, because the fungi feed off of the extra sugar.
The presence of high levels of sugar in the saliva can also promote tooth decay. The bacteria in the mouth turn sugar into acid. The increased acidity damages the enamel that protects your teeth from decay. The presence of gum disease exacerbates this problem, as pockets between the gums and teeth house more plaque and bacteria. Tooth decay that is left untreated causes significant pain and can even lead to oral abscesses.
All of these conditions are most common in individuals with uncontrolled diabetes. If sugar levels are kept in check, you are less likely to have oral health problems. Follow all of your doctor’s orders. Take medications as prescribed. Avoid sugary foods and simple carbohydrates that can raise your blood sugar levels. Drink plenty of water to combat dry mouth.
Everyone needs to practice good oral hygiene, but if you have diabetes, the increased risk for oral disease makes it especially important.
Just because you are diabetic doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to suffering from oral health issues and losing your teeth. Take precautions to prevent illness; and, know the signs of illness so that you can get help before it is too late.