Ronald L. Cooper DDS, FAGD

Periodontal (gum) disease or gum disease affects half of Americans aged 30 or older or 64.7 million Americans. Men are more likely to have gum disease than women. Although teenagers rarely develop periodontitis, they can develop gingivitis, the milder form of gum disease.

Ignoring gum disease can lead to several dental complications such as tooth decay, tooth loss, and infection. Gum disease can also increase your risk of developing other health conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory infections, rheumatoid arthritis, and dementia.

Here are some facts you should know about gum disease.  

Fact #1

Our mouths are full of bacteria that are continually forming plaque, a sticky, colorless substance that coats your teeth and gums. Plaque that is not removed regularly through brushing and flossing turns into “tartar,” a hard material that can only be removed by professional cleaning.  

Fact #2

Gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease, develops as a result of plaque and tartar not being removed. Gingivitis causes gums to become inflamed, red, and swollen. Bleeding is typically a sign of gingivitis.  

Fact #3

Gingivitis can be reversed with regular brushing and flossing, as well as professional cleaning by a dentist. This mild form of gum disease does not lead to the loss of bone or tissue that hold your teeth in place.

Fact #4

Untreated gingivitis can lead to “periodontitis.” This condition results in gums pulling away from teeth and the formation of spaces (or pockets) that can become infected. This can lead to the break down of bone and tissue as your body fights bacterial toxins. Periodontitis can lead to loose teeth and tooth loss. 

Fact #5

Some forms of gum disease can be treated by deep-cleaning, nonsurgical procedures such as scaling and root planing. During these procedures, plaque and tartar are removed above and below the gum line.    

Fact #6

Genetics plays a role in the development of gum disease. In some people, regular brushing and flossing and professional cleanings aren’t enough to prevent gum disease. In this case, it is essential to be under the care of a dentist who can provide advice on oral hygiene and various ways to reduce your risk.

Fact #7 (with an action item) 🙂

Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing regularly and visiting our office for regular cleanings can reduce your risk for developing gum disease. Give us a call at 202-463-2090 to schedule your next appointment.