Periodontal disease is a common infection of the gums that can affect people of all ages. According to statistics, two in five adults in the U.S. has periodontal disease. Although it is most often seen in adults, this disease can also affect children.
Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth, causes gum disease. Plaque produces toxins that can damage the gums and bones around the teeth. If not removed, plaque can harden into tartar, which is much more difficult to remove.
When it comes to periodontal disease, there are a lot of myths floating around. And unfortunately, these myths can often prevent people from getting the treatment they need. The following are five examples of myths surrounding the periodontal disease and the facts you need to make informed decisions about your oral health.
1. Myth: Only Older Adults Get Periodontal Disease.
While it’s true that periodontal disease is more common among older adults, anyone can develop the condition. Reports show that about 50% of children have this gum disease. This indicates that even children can develop periodontal disease.
In adults, the most common symptom of periodontal disease is bleeding gums. However, children with the condition may not experience any symptoms at all. Kids often get periodontal disease from their parents, who may not even know they have it.
2. Myth: Good Oral Hygiene Habits Mean I Won’t Get Gum Disease
Even if you brush and floss regularly, you’re not immune to gum disease. Poor oral hygiene habits are just one of the many risk factors for periodontal disease.
Everyone is susceptible to developing gum disease at some point in their lives. Some other risk factors for gum disease include:
- Gingivitis or bleeding gums
- The recession of the gum line
- A family history of gum disease
- Hormonal changes
- Chewing or smoking tobacco
3. Myth: You Don’t Need To See a Dentist if You Don’t Have Any Symptoms
Just because you’re not experiencing any symptoms doesn’t mean you don’t have periodontal disease. Periodontal disease usually doesn’t cause pain or other symptoms in its early stages. By the time symptoms do appear, there is already damage, and treatment may be more difficult.
At the early stage of gum disease, you may experience bleeding or swollen gums. Other people may notice the gums receding, metallic taste in the mouth, bad breath, or increasing spaces between the teeth. When your gum disease ends up in the advanced stage, you will have painful abscesses due to the spreading infection beneath the gums.
4. Myth: Periodontal Disease Is Only a Cosmetic Issue
Some people think periodontal disease is just a cosmetic issue. One of the first signs of gum disease is bleeding gums. While this may not seem a big deal, untreated periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and other health problems.
Research has also linked periodontitis to an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory problems, and other severe health conditions. This only means that gum disease is more than just a cosmetic issue, but it can seriously affect your overall health.
5. Myth: You Can Cure Gum Disease With Antibiotics
While antibiotics can help treat gum disease, they cannot cure it. In most cases, plaque buildup on the teeth causes gum disease. This plaque contains bacteria that can cause inflammation and infection in the gums.
Antibiotics can help reduce inflammation and infection but cannot remove plaque. The only way to remove plaque is to brush and floss regularly. Even with good oral hygiene habits, you may still need to see a dentist or periodontist for treatment.
Consulting the Pros
If you think you may have periodontal disease, visit a trusted dental office as soon as possible. Only a dental professional can diagnose and treat gum disease. A reliable dentist or periodontist can give the right diagnosis with a dental exam and X-rays. Once they confirm that you have periodontal disease, they will start developing a treatment plan. This can include scaling and root planing (a deep cleaning), medication, or surgery.
It’s important to note that periodontal disease is a progressive condition. This means that it will only get worse over time if not treated. Since this condition often comes with no symptoms, you must take time to visit your dentist for regular checkups. They can help spot the early signs of gum disease and start treatment before it becomes more serious.
If you haven’t been to a dentist’s clinic due to your anxiety, it is crucial that you start now. Many clinics consider their patient’s anxiety, helping them overcome this to get the best dental experience and treatment possible. Find one that can ease your anxiety, offers different dental services, and can even accommodate you in times of a dental emergency.
These are just some of the myths about gum disease. Knowing the truth behind each one can help you better care for your oral health and prevent gum disease from developing or progressing. Now that you know the truth, you can make the right decisions regarding caring for your teeth and gums.