You’ve noticed your gums are a little tender these days, and that they tend to bleed after you brush. You also know you missed your last dental checkup and start to wonder if maybe something’s wrong. You make a mental note to call your dentist and make an appointment, but then you get busy and never do.
Now is the time to make that call. If your gums are tender and bleeding, there’s a good chance you have gingivitis, a condition that will lead to gum disease if ignored. While plaque buildup is the main cause of gum disease, there are other factors that may lead to its development. Here’s a breakdown of those factors and what you can do to prevent gum disease—a condition that can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
1. Changes in your hormones. Any change in your hormones can lead to gum disease, whether they happen during pregnancy, menopause or puberty. These changes leave gums more sensitive, and that makes it easy for gingivitis to set in. Make an effort to see your dentist regularly during these times so he can monitor you for gum disease, and treat it early if it develops.
2. You’ve developed an illness. Some diseases affect the condition of your gyms, including HIV, cancer and diabetes. HIV and cancer interfere with your immune system, while diabetes affects your body’s ability to use blood sugar, and that all makes you more susceptible to developing infections.
3. You’re taking new medication. The medications you take can have a huge impact on your oral health. How? Many of them lessen the flow of saliva, and saliva works to protect the teeth and gums. Without that protection, you’re more likely to developing gingivitis.
4. You smoke. You know smoking is bad for your body, but did you know it’s also bad for your mouth? It is. If you smoke, you’re making it more difficult for your gum tissue to repair itself. If you want to lower your chances of developing gum disease, stop smoking.
5. You don’t brush and floss every day. This might seem like a no-brainer, but if you don’t brush and floss regularly, you’re upping your chances of developing gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. If you want to keep your mouth healthy, brush and floss every day.
6. There’s a history of gum disease in your family. Some people are just more susceptible to developing gum disease, and family history plays a factor. If someone in your family has been diagnosed with gum disease, there’s a greater chance you will be too. Talk to your dentist about your family history. You may need to come in for more frequent checkups to help manage the condition.
Bleeding, swollen gums aren’t normal. If you notice these or any other symptoms of periodontal disease, including bad breath and receding gums, call your dentist right away. The sooner you get treatment the better off you’ll be. Even if you don’t have signs of gum disease, make sure you schedule regular dental checkups. This will help prevent gum disease from developing, or enabling your dentist to catch it in the very early stages.