What is Periodontal disease?
If your hands bled when you washed them, you would be concerned. Yet, many people think it's normal if their gums bleed when they brush or floss. In a 1999 study, researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that half of Americans over 30 had bleeding gums.
The most common form of periodontal disease is gingivitis. Typically caused by inadequate oral hygiene, hallmark symptoms of gingivitis include swollen and red gums that bleed easily. Fortunately, gingivitis is reversible with improved oral care and professional treatment.
Gingivitis that isn’t treated can advance to periodontitis, when plaque grows below the gum line. Toxins that are produced by the bacteria begin to produce an inflammatory response in the body. This leads to the destruction of tissues and bone that support the teeth. This can lead to infection and ultimately tooth loss.
In recent years, gum disease has been linked to other health problems. Researchers are studying possible connections between gum disease and:
"Atherosclerosis and heart disease — Gum disease may increase the risk of clogged arteries and heart disease. It also is believed to worsen existing heart disease."
"Premature births — A woman who has gum disease during pregnancy may be more likely to deliver her baby too early. The infant may be more likely to be of low birth weight."
"Respiratory disease — Bacteria involved in gum disease may cause lung infections or worsen existing lung conditions."