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Common Misconceptions About Signs and Treating Gum (Periodontal) Disease

Posted in Oral Hygiene

Posted on September, 22 2023 by Gerald M. Marlin, DMD, MSD
gum disease oral hygiene prosthodontist Washington DC

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common oral health condition affecting almost half of American adults over the age of 30 [1].

Despite its prevalence, people have several misconceptions about gum disease, which may stop them from preventing and even treating the condition.

So, what are some common misconceptions about the signs and treatment of gum disease? Understanding this condition is essential to taking the best care of your smile.

Myth #1: Teeth Are Not Affected by Gum Disease

One common misconception about gum disease is that it exclusively impacts the gums. However, this is not the case.

Gum disease is a chronic bacterial infection that can have far-reaching effects beyond the gums. If left untreated, it can cause damage to the underlying bone and lead to tooth loss.

Furthermore, research has shown that gum disease is linked to other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory problems—systemic conditions that can have serious health implications [2].

Myth #2: Poor Oral Hygiene Is the Only Cause of Gum Disease

While poor oral hygiene is certainly a significant risk factor for gum disease, it is not the only cause. Other factors, such as genetics, hormonal changes, certain medications, smoking, and health conditions like diabetes, can also contribute to the development of gum disease [3].

Furthermore, gum disease can be created by improperly designed crowns and veneers that are too square, not allowing enough room for the gum tissue to have a normal shape and natural blood circulation. Without the proper shape, it is also very difficult for each person to apply proper hygiene techniques.

For many patients, gum disease is caused by multiple factors. So while maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial, it does not guarantee that you will not develop gum disease at some point in your life.

Myth #3: Implants do not Undergo Gum Disease Like the Natural Dentition

Dental implants are replacement titanium screws surgically inserted into the bone as replacement roots. Abutments are seated on them and, in turn, hold the crowns. The implants are replacement “tooth” roots; the abutments are replacement prepared teeth; and the crowns are replacement tooth shapes. All of these items regularly have bacteria adhere to them, which, if left intact, will eventually attach the gum tissue, and, ultimately, the bone. Therefore, implant restored crowns need the same attention to proper hygiene, but, most importantly, they have to be correctly fabricated with the proper contours replicating teeth in the first place.

Myth #4: Most Gum Disease Cases Are Not Serious

Some people believe gum disease is a minor issue that can be easily ignored. However, this is not the case.

Gum disease, especially in its advanced stages, can lead to painful gum abscesses and tooth loss [4]. And as we’ve seen, numerous studies suggest a link between gum disease and systemic health issues that can impact your overall health.

Treating gum disease promptly is vital for maintaining your smile and overall health.

Myth #5: Gum Disease Only Affects Older People

Contrary to popular belief, gum disease can occur at any age. While the risk of developing gum disease increases with age due to the cumulative effects of poor oral hygiene and other risk factors, younger individuals are not exempt from this oral health condition.

Maintaining good oral hygiene practices, visiting the dentist regularly, and addressing risk factors can help prevent gum disease regardless of age.

Myth #6: Bleeding Gums Are Normal and Not a Sign of Gum Disease

One of the most noticeable symptoms of gum disease is bleeding gums. However, while some people think bleeding gums are normal, the truth is that they are not.

Gum bleeding that occurs during brushing is a strong indication of gum inflammation. Healthy gums should not bleed. If they do, it is crucial to consult a dental professional for an evaluation.

Early detection and intervention can prevent gum disease from progressing to a more severe stage.

Myth #7: Treatment for Gum Disease Is Painful and Unnecessary

Treatment for gum disease is always necessary, even if you have been diagnosed with gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease. Treating gum disease as soon as possible will give you your best chance to stop the condition before it progresses. It will also help keep any intervention you need minimal.

Gum disease treatment should not be painful. If you need a root scaling and planing, which is a type of deep cleaning that can reverse mild to moderate stages of gum disease, your gums may feel a little sore after the procedure [5]. However, most patients will not experience significant discomfort and will not feel pain during the procedure. If any discomfort is apparent, we will provide local anesthesia to eliminate that noxious feeling.

At Elite Prosthetic Dentistry, we make every effort to keep our patients comfortable during their appointment and provide detailed at-home care instructions to ensure their smile heals appropriately. We even offer sedation dentistry for patients who would like extra support remaining comfortable and pain-free during their appointment.

Myth #8: Gum Disease Will Go Away With Good Oral Hygiene 

If you believe you have gum disease or have been diagnosed with it, brushing and flossing your teeth more will not make it go away. Since gum disease involves active inflammation and infection of the gum tissue, it requires professional treatment by your hygienist before your smile can start healing. If your gum disease has advanced, we will refer you to a periodontist.

The best thing you can do is to seek treatment if you notice signs of gum disease, including:

    • A bad taste in your mouth
    • Bleeding gums
    • Gum recession
    • Persistent bad breath
    • Tender or red gum tissue

Remember, with prompt treatment, you can get gum disease under control and save your smile.

Don’t Ignore the Signs of Gum Disease

Dispelling common misconceptions about gum disease is essential to ensure people are well-informed about this potentially serious oral health condition. By understanding the true nature of gum disease, we can take appropriate measures to prevent its occurrence or address it promptly.

You should never ignore gum disease or wait to seek treatment. If you are seeing signs or experiencing symptoms of gum disease, contact Elite Prosthetic Dentistry today to learn more about our Oral Health & Wellness Program and how we can make your smile sparkle again!