Your gums are much more important than you may think when it comes to your oral health and your overall wellbeing. It is true that your gums help hold your teeth in place, but they also protect your body from the harmful bacteria that is present in your mouth. Our dentist, Dr. Bart Cleary, offers periodontics in Oxford, North Carolina to keep your gums healthy.

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, can have a number of causes, but the primary source of gum disease is the bacteria in the plaque and tartar present on your teeth. Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time, flossing once a day and seeing Dr. Cleary for your regular visits can reduce plaque and tartar buildup. In its earliest form, gum disease appears as a relatively mild condition known as gingivitis and can develop into more severe forms such as periodontitis and advanced periodontitis.

If left untreated, gum disease can lead to lost teeth and lost mass in your jawbone. However, there are other health problems that have been linked to gum disease.

  • Diabetes:
    If you live with diabetes, you have a higher chance of developing gum disease. The disease will increase your blood sugar levels, making it harder to control your levels of glucose. Gum disease also thickens you blood vessels, meaning that sugar may stay in your mouth longer, increasing the level of bacteria that can contribute to gum disease.
  • Heart Disease and Stroke:
    Since gum disease allows bacteria to enter your body, that bacteria can build up on the walls of your arteries or help in the formation of blood clots, which increases your chances of heart disease or stroke. It has also been linked to the inflammation of the walls of the heart valves.
  • Osteoporosis:
    Osteoporosis is common for many post-menopausal women. It results in decreased bone mass and density and increased fragility. Gum disease carries with it a greater risk of bone loss and can aggravate the problems associated with osteoporosis.
  • Pregnancy:
    Although some mild gingivitis may occur during pregnancy, gum disease has been linked to low birth weight in babies and premature delivery. If you are pregnant or think you might be, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with Dr. Cleary.
  • Respiratory Issues:
    You may inhale the bacteria present in gum disease, leading to an infection in your lungs and possibly pneumonia.

How can you tell if you are suffering from gum disease? In its earliest stages, it may be completely painless, and your dentist may be the first person who recognizes that there is a problem. That is one reason why it is so important that you see Dr. Cleary at least every six months for a cleaning and exam. Some symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Gums that are red or even blue. Healthy gums are pink in color
  • Swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed when you brush, floss or eat certain foods
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding gums

Our dentist can address your gum disease in a number of ways. If it is detected early enough, you may only need to improve your home hygiene regimen. You may also benefit from what is called a deep cleaning or scaling and root planing. This process involves removing the tartar from your teeth above and below the gumline and smoothing the roots so they will reform a healthy attachment to your jaw. Our dentist may also use an antibiotic treatment to address the problem, or in some cases, surgery on your gums or jaws may be required to restore the health of your gums.

If you have any concerns about gum disease in Oxford, North Carolina, we would love to see you at Bart Cleary, DDS, PA. Call 919-693-7999 today, and one of our team members will be happy to help you schedule an appointment.