Blood is a scary thing. Sometimes it’s expected, such as when we get a paper cut or have an accident. It’s when we unexpectedly experience bleeding that we begin feeling anxious. Why is it, then, that so many people do not seek treatment when they experience bleeding gums? Dr. Ryan Hussong, who treats patients with periodontal disease in Polk City, IA, encourages you to call his office immediately if you notice blood on your toothbrush, which appears pink or rust-colored on the bristles. Otherwise, he explains, you put yourself at risk of losing one or more permanent teeth.
Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease
Although anyone can develop gum disease, your risk increases substantially as you age. Men and women older than 40 years have the highest risk, a fact that Dr. Hussong attributes to hormonal changes and the added effort required to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Xerostomia, or dry mouth, occurs frequently in older patients and increases the risk of tooth decay. Women in particular are susceptible to periodontal disease throughout their lives, especially during significant hormonal fluctuations such as those associated with menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. Genetics also play a role in your risk profile, with an estimated 30% of the population having a strong predisposition toward developing gum problems.
Know the Warning Signs for Gum Disease
The most common and easily recognizable symptom of periodontal disease, bleeding gums, warrants a timely visit to your Polk City dentist. In the earliest stages of the disease, brushing and flossing may produce only a small amount of blood, causing your toothbrush to appear light pink or orange—subtle, but certainly alarming. If you smoke or chew tobacco, Dr. Hussong warns that your gums may not bleed at all, making you less likely to seek treatment. Other commonly reported symptoms include bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth that does not go away, even after you brush and floss. Some patients experience puffy, shiny, and deeply red gum tissue that is more sensitive than usual.
Tobacco Use and Gum Disease
Tobacco use threatens your teeth and gums in other ways, too, and the American Academy of Periodontolgy cites it as one of the most troublesome contributing factors to gum disease and its progression. Smoking dries out oral tissue, including your gums, depriving your mouth of the cleansing benefits of saliva. Compared to nonsmokers, those who smoke have a higher incidence of calculus buildup on their teeth, form deeper pockets between gums and teeth, and are more likely to experience loss of teeth, tissue, and bone density in the jaw.
Patients who have periodontal disease require more intensive care for their gums, so professional cleaning and dental exams should take place more than twice yearly. Dr. Hussong may also recommend antimicrobial mouthwash or similar oral care products to treat infected gum tissue. He also cautions parents that, because gum disease begins as an infection, bacteria may be transferred between parents and children by sharing drinks and toothbrushes. Teach your children the importance of only using their own toothbrush.
Gum disease is the primary cause of tooth loss in adults. To learn more about protecting your family from periodontal disease in Polk City, IA, or to request an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact Cornerstone Dental at (515) 984-6001. We welcome patients living in Ankeny, Alleman, Grimes, Des Moines, Urbandale, and the nearby communities.