Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, manifests as redness, swelling, and irritation of the gum tissue. This condition occurs when plaque isn't removed from your teeth in time, which allows it to harden into tartar, a hard, bacteria-filled substance that only your dentist can remove. Gum disease is a very common condition, but there are a lot of myths circulating about it, and believing these myths can be dangerous to your oral health. Here are three myths about gum disease that you shouldn't believe.
It's normal for gums to bleed
Many people think that seeing a little "pink in the sink" after they brush or floss is normal. It's no wonder that people think this, since about 90% of people experience bleeding occasionally when they brush their teeth. While bleeding gums are widespread, they're not a good thing, and if your gums are bleeding, you need to be concerned.
Bleeding gums are a sign that your gums are swollen and irritated. Your gums become irritated when bacteria-filled plaque is allowed to remain on your teeth. The bacteria leads to inflammation and infection of the gums, and when your diseased gums are rubbed with a toothbrush, they bleed.
Fortunately, gum disease is easily treatable in the early stages, so as long as you see your dentist right away, you should be ok. Your dentist will thoroughly clean your teeth, which will usually reverse the problems with your gums. Don't make the mistake of ignoring bleeding gums, since this will allow your gum disease to get worse.
If you brush and floss, you can't get gum disease
Most people know that neglecting your oral hygiene routine can lead to gum disease, but forgetting to brush and floss isn't the only potential cause of this condition. Even if you brush and floss vigilantly, you still aren't safe from gum disease. This is because there are other factors that can increase your risk of gum disease.
Some health conditions, like cancer or diabetes, make you more likely to develop gum disease. These conditions make you more susceptible to infections throughout your body, and your gums are no exception. Gum disease can also be a side effect of some medications, such as anti-seizure medications.
If you tend to breathe through your mouth, not through your nose, your gums may be at risk. This is because the exposure to the air can make your gums irritated and inflamed. Even stress can increase your risk of getting gum disease by impairing your immune system and making it easier for bacteria to invade your gums.
Serious gum disease is rare
It's a common misconception that serious gum disease is rare, but unfortunately, this myth isn't true. According to the Centers and Disease Control and Prevention, about half of all adults in the United States have some degree of gum disease. While 8.7% of American adults only have mild gum disease, 30% have moderate gum disease and 8.5% have severe gum disease. That's a lot of people!
Serious gum disease is more common in some groups of people than others. For example, current smokers, people living in poverty, and people who didn't graduate high school are more likely to suffer from this condition than others. It's also more common in people of Mexican descent.
Since serious gum disease is so common, you can't assume that you don't have it and should see your dentist right away for a screening. Your dentist will check your gums for signs of gum disease, and if signs are present, you can start treatment.
Believing these three myths about gum disease can put both your oral health and your smile in jeopardy. It's not true that it's normal for gums to bleed, that only people who don't brush and floss get gum disease, and that serious gum disease is rare. To keep yourself safe from gum disease, make sure to see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
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