Are you looking for reasons to smile genuinely? Then here’s an excellent one: research associates it with a longer life. It can also help relieve stress, elevate moods, and even boost immunity!

Despite those compelling reasons to smile, many avoid doing so due to poor oral health. For example, in a previous ADA study, 1 in 4 American adults said they avoid smiling for this reason.

All stages of gum disease, in turn, are among the most common factors for poor oral health. Left untreated, they can worsen and cause even more problems in the long run.

That’s why you must care about gum disease, its effects, and getting it treated promptly. We’ve discussed the most crucial things you need to know in this guide, so please read on.

All Stages of Gum Disease Can Cause Pain

There are four stages of gum disease, with even the earliest one causing pain or, at the very least, soreness.

The first stage is gingivitis, wherein the gums swell and become red and irritated. The gums may also bleed and sting. Left untreated, it can progress to mild periodontitis.

With mild periodontitis, the gums start to pull away from the teeth. At this stage, the bones around the teeth can already lose some structure. Mild pain can also occur due to gum inflammation or infection.

If mild periodontitis remains unaddressed, it can soon progress to moderate periodontitis. At this stage, receding gum lines worsen, and the bones around the teeth lose more structure. The gums also become even more tender and sore.

The final, worst stage is severe periodontitis. It causes more pain and further bone loss and tissue deterioration. Other signs are bleeding, pain, bad breath, and more severe infections.

All those should be good enough reasons to care about gum disease, but even more so if you have kids. It’s among the most common oral diseases in children. And unlike many adults, kids often have a lower pain tolerance.

You Can Reverse Gum Disease

Gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, is reversible if caught and treated early. So, as soon as you notice irritated, swollen, and red gums, take that as a sign to give your teeth a deeper clean.

The ideal brushing time in adults should be no less than two minutes. On the other hand, kids could benefit more if they brush their teeth for two to three minutes.

Regular flossing at least once daily is also crucial to good oral hygiene. It’s even more helpful if you have gingivitis, as it aids in removing more plaque and tartar.

Then, schedule a dental visit for professional dental cleaning. This way, your dentist can remove all traces of plaque and tartar on the teeth and beneath the gums. They’ll also remove bacterial products that are behind swelling and infection.

Gum Disease Can Lead to Tooth Loss

As gum disease progresses, more gums pull away from the teeth. This gum recession then results in pockets forming around the teeth. More bacteria can invade these spaces and break down the bone and tissue holding the teeth in place.

The teeth can loosen when there’s no longer enough bone and tissue. They may wiggle and cause even more pain. Food debris and more disease-causing germs can also get into the pockets.

All that can result in the teeth having to undergo extraction. They may even get so loose that they can get knocked out with enough force.

While many tooth replacement options now exist, they don’t beat natural permanent teeth. Besides, replacing teeth can cost a lot of money.

In children, premature primary teeth loss can lead to orthodontic issues. For example, it can result in teeth crowding, impaction, or a misaligned bite. Losing baby teeth too early can also contribute to speech problems.

Gum Disease Affects More than the Mouth

The bacteria that cause oral infections and gum disease can also affect the heart. They can do so by invading the bloodstream from the mouth.

Spikes in blood glucose (sugar) levels are also common risks of gum disease. These may occur as a result of the gums becoming inflamed. Unfortunately, inflammatory processes are factors in diabetes development.

There’s also a link between untreated gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that can affect various body parts. It impacts not only adults but also children.

Researchers found that one of the primary types of bacteria that causes gum disease can lead to the onset of RA. This bacterium, P. gingivalis, can escape the mouth via damaged gum tissue. From there, it can enter the bloodstream and trigger RA.

Untreated Gum Disease Is Costly

Untreated gum disease is a multi-billion dollar problem in the United States. According to experts, its annual economic burden on the nation is $154 billion.

Delays in treating gum disease only make future treatment more expensive. That’s enough reason to visit the dentist as soon as you notice signs of gum disease.

Also, please remember that although very common, gum disease is preventable. Proper brushing, flossing, and seeing the dentist once or twice a year can help prevent it.

Reducing consumption of starchy and sugary foods and drinks can also help. This is because the bacteria that cause gum disease love to feast on starches and sugars.

For adults, minimizing or even quitting alcohol or tobacco should also be a priority. According to the U.S. CDC, people who smoke have twice the risk for gum disease.

Don’t Let Gum Disease Ruin Your Smile

Remember: Of the four stages of gum disease, only the first, gingivitis, is reversible. Once it progresses to mild periodontitis, it can already cause bone and tissue loss.

Don’t let that happen; take action immediately after noticing symptoms.

It is highly important to visit the dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene. These strategies can help prevent gum disease from occurring in the first place.

Are you ready to beat gum disease with your kids? Then Kentuckiana Pediatric Dentistry is happy to help. Call us today to schedule your children’s appointment!