Gingivitis or gum disease is one of the most common dental illnesses in the world today, and many people live with less severe forms of gum disease and aren't even aware of it. Advanced gum disease can cause bleeding, receding gums, chronic bad breath, and other unpleasant symptoms, but earlier stages of gingivitis are often painless and may be difficult to notice.
However, if you believe you are suffering from the symptoms of gingivitis, you should visit a dentist for a checkup as soon as possible, even if your symptoms are very mild. Many minor health problems can become more serious if left untreated, but ignoring a case of gum disease can be particularly dangerous. Here are three important reasons why prompt treatment of gingivitis is always essential:
It may damage more important parts of your body
Gum disease is caused by a bacterial infection inside the tissues that make up your gums and hold your teeth firmly in place. These tissues are filled with blood vessels, and if the gums are diseased, some of the harmful bacteria can be carried in the bloodstream to other parts of your body, including vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and brain.
These errant bacteria can cause serious damage, and people with untreated gum disease have been found to have a higher risk of developing heart disease and lung disease. They are also more likely to suffer from diabetes or strokes in later life. This damage can accumulate over time, so prompt treatment of gum disease can be vital to your long term health.
If you're pregnant, it may harm your unborn baby
Pregnancy causes many changes in your body, for better and for worse. The hormonal changes caused by pregnancy can significantly increase your chances of developing a specific type of gingivitis known as pregnancy gingivitis.
Pregnancy gingivitis is caused by your body's own immune system, rather than a bacterial infection. However, the inflammation that it causes leaves your gums vulnerable to actual bacterial infections, and without proper care, pregnancy gingivitis can quickly become 'real' gingivitis.
This isn't just bad news for your oral health; it's also bad news for your unborn baby. Pregnant women with gum disease have a higher risk of delivering prematurely, which can cause your baby to be born underweight and may lead to other significant health issues for your child. It goes without saying that pregnant women who believe they may have a form of gingivitis should see a dentist as soon as possible for treatment.
It may develop into periodontitis
Gum disease can be painful, unsightly and debilitating, but if you leave your gum disease untreated, these symptoms may only be the start of your problems. If gingivitis goes untreated for long enough, it can become a more serious disease known as periodontitis.
When periodontitis occurs, the gum tissue that was already damaged by inflammation starts to decay and may start to peel away from the bases of your teeth. This leaves your teeth extremely vulnerable to infection and cavities, and many people with periodontitis have to have multiple extractions to remove badly damaged teeth. The infection can also spread to the bones and muscles in your jaw, a serious and extremely painful condition that may require emergency surgery.
To learn more or to book an appointment, reach out to a general dentistry practice near you.