Periodontal disease doesn’t get much press. That’s probably why there are so many myths and inaccuracies around it. When you know the truth, you have the weapons needed to fight it. Here are the top six myths about gum disease.
Myth #1: Since periodontal disease can happen through bad hygiene, extra brushing and flossing will get rid of it. It’s true that not taking proper care of your teeth and gums increases your risk of periodontal disease. It’s caused by bacteria. If you don’t clean your teeth regularly, you are leaving behind food particles so those bacteria can thrive. That’s why brushing and flossing are so important to your dental health. But going overboard on those is not a cure.
Think of it this way. You need to stretch before exercise. If you don’t and pull a muscle, you’re not going to fix that problem by stretching over and over again. If you are having problems with periodontal disease, you need professional treatment at our Kennewick, WA dental office.
Myth #2: If you have bad breath, you already have periodontal disease. One of the symptoms of gingivitis (the early stage of periodontal disease) is chronic bad breath. That’s because harmful bacteria are secreting an acid that’s eating away at your gum tissue. That releases a foul odor. Gum, brushing, and mints won’t help much because those don’t get rid of the bacteria.
However, bad breath can come from lots of things. If you eat a lot of garlic or onions, for example, that could be a cause. So can tiny bits of food getting stuck between your teeth and starting to rot. And most of us have morning breath. Bad breath is a possible symptom, not a perfect indicator. You’ll need to be evaluated by Dr. Hadley to know for sure.
Myth #3: Periodontal disease only affects your gums. It’s called gum disease for a reason, right? Heart disease stays in the heart, so periodontal disease stays in the gums. Unfortunately, that is not true. Periodontal disease is caused by harmful bacteria. When they cross the gumline and infect the gum tissue, it starts to spread. Because your gums have blood vessels in it, bacteria can get into your bloodstream and get carried all over your body. Your immune system will catch most of these, but nothing is perfect. You could easily start to have problems just about anywhere in your body because of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease also affects your teeth. When your gums get irritated, they tend to pull away from your teeth. This takes support away. You can lose healthy teeth if your gums are infected.
Myth #4: Gums can easily bleed, so seeing blood after you brush and floss can be normal. Some people have gotten used to seeing a little blood when they spit after brushing or flossing. If that’s the only problem you’re facing, it can be tempting to explain it away as something normal. Unless you are going crazy with the brushing and flossing, your gums should not bleed. That’s a sign of gingivitis. When bacteria are irritating your gums like that, it’s much easier to break through and cause them to bleed. That only makes it easier for gingivitis to turn into periodontitis, the advanced stage of the disease.
Myth #5: Periodontal disease is only caused by neglecting your teeth. Yes, having bad dental hygiene can let bacteria grow unchecked, leading to gingivitis at the least. That’s why people often think that keeping your teeth clean will ward off the disease. It certainly helps, but neglect is only one cause. Smoking or using tobacco in chew and vaporizers hurts your immune system, making it easier for bacteria to cause problems. You could also have a genetic predisposition to having gum disease.
Myth #6: This disease is rare, or you would hear more about it. Periodontal disease doesn’t make the news or blogs like other problems do. Even in the world of dentistry, you’re more likely to hear about cavities or cosmetic dentistry than gum disease. That leads people to believe it’s not a serious problem. The real reason why people don’t talk about it more is the disease is subtle. A cavity is painful. It’s also easy to treat. You could have periodontal disease without even knowing it.
Yes, bad breath and bleeding gums are clear symptoms. But you can have gingivitis or even periodontitis with very little symptoms. Sometimes, you’ll just have the occasional problem with sore or tender gums, but it goes away. The CDC estimates that close to 50% of Americans have some form of gum disease. It really is a problem.
If your gums are sore or bleed after brushing, don’t assume everything is fine. Call us today at 509-591-0515 so Dr. Hadley can check to see if you have periodontal disease.