Nearly 50% of Americans over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. You may also hear your dentist in Tuscaloosa refer to gum disease as gingivitis. So what’s the difference between gum disease and gingivitis, and how can you tell if you have one or the other?
A Glance at Gum Disease
Gum disease is an infection that affects the gums, but it can also travel throughout your bloodstream and cause health problems in other areas of the body. In fact, gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. There are actually three stages of gum disease including:
- Advanced Periodontitis
Each stage of gum disease progresses in severity, and the longer gum disease goes undetected and untreated, the more likely it is to lead to other problems.
Early Diagnosis Is Key
When gum disease is caught in its earliest stage, your dentist in Tuscaloosa will probably diagnose it as gingivitis. During this first stage, gingivitis can be treated and any damage that may have occurred can often be reversed. If gingivitis isn’t treated early, it can progress into periodontitis, lead to tooth loss, and create complications in both oral and overall health.
Warning Signs of Gingivitis
Everyone should visit their dentist in Tuscaloosa at least twice a year for checkups and cleanings. These important dental visits can catch any problems, including gingivitis, early. But it’s also crucial to pay attention to any changes in your oral health in between these appointments. Some of the most common signs of gingivitis are:
- Bleeding gums (even when flossing!)
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
- Swollen, puffy, painful gums
- Receding gums
- Dark red gums
If you notice any of the early warning signs of gingivitis, call to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
Who Can Get Gingivitis?
While anyone can get gingivitis, there are some things that can put someone at increased risk, such as:
- Tobacco use
- Crooked teeth that are difficult to clean
- Poor oral hygiene habits
- Chronic dry mouth
- Hormonal changes
- Age — older people are more likely to develop gum disease than younger people
Prevent Gingivitis, Protect Your Health
The best way to protect yourself from developing gingivitis in the first place is to take excellent care of your teeth. This means brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day. You can also reduce your risk of gingivitis by adopting certain lifestyle habits such as drinking plenty of water, avoiding tobacco products, and eating a well-balanced diet that contains limited sugars.
Any form of gum disease can seem scary, but if you catch it early treatment can be very successful. So if it’s been longer than six months since your last dental appointment, call your dentist in Tuscaloosa to schedule a checkup today.