Your teeth are front and center, and you spend a lot of time making sure they’re bright and healthy, but it’s equally important to spend as much time on your gums. In fact, the consequences of poor gum health can have a surprisingly large, life-altering impact.
To explain this bold statement further, the team here at Willow Glen Dental Specialists, which includes periodontics experts who focus on gums, present the following information.
Surprising gum disease facts
Before we get into our three gum health points, we want to underscore why this is important information for most everyone. The fact is that 46% of adults aged 30 and older in the United States have gum disease, and 9% have severe gum disease.
As well, about 30% of adults between the ages of 65 and 74 have no natural teeth left, and gum disease is one of the major drivers of this collective tooth loss.
Now that we understand how common unhealthy gums are, let’s take a look at the potential consequences of poor gum health.
1. Bad breath
This first consequence of unhealthy gums may not qualify as life-altering, but it can have an impact on your life if people are steering clear of you because of bad breath.
Gum disease occurs when plaque forms around and on your gums, eventually getting inside the soft tissues. This plaque houses bacteria that eat away at your gums and, as they eat, they release gasses that can have a very unpleasant odor.
2. Tooth and bone loss
While bad breath is something you can handle easily enough, tooth and bone loss is another matter. Once periodontitis, which is the medical term for gum disease, takes hold, it can continue to erode the soft and hard tissues in your mouth.
If gum disease is allowed to run rampant, the bacteria erode the tissues that hold your teeth in place, which can cause your teeth to loosen. Eventually, the tooth either falls out or you need to have us extract your tooth (or teeth).
Losing teeth is difficult enough, but the loss doesn't stop there. Since there’s no tooth in the area, your jawbone registers the inactivity and ceases to grow new bone. And this happens quickly — you lose about 30% to 50% of your alveolar ridge (the bone that holds your teeth) within the first 12 months of losing a tooth.
This bone loss not only makes replacing missing teeth with dental implants trickier, it can have an impact on your outward appearance — your mouth appears to sink inward.
This one word, alone, should be enough to get your attention when it comes to gum health. When your gums are in poor health, there’s plenty of pain and discomfort that goes along with it. Even in the earliest stages of periodontitis — gingivitis — the inflammation around your gums can be uncomfortable.
In the later stages of gum disease, there’s pain in your teeth and gums, discomfort after the gum treatments you will likely need, and pain associated with common complications of gum disease, such as abscesses.
While our goal here isn’t to scare you unnecessarily, we do want this to serve as a wake-up call to pay close attention to your gum health. Your first line of defense (aside from proper at-home care), is to see us regularly for dental exams and professional cleanings.
To schedule a dental exam that includes an evaluation of your gum health, please contact our office in San Jose, California, by calling 408-478-9081. Or, if you prefer, you can book an appointment with us online.