Just how serious are bleeding gums? What if every time you washed your hands, your fingertips bled? Would you be disturbed? We hope so, and yet, every day people brush their teeth and are not at all alarmed by the blood they spit out. If it were your fingers bleeding, you would probably freak out and go straight to the doctor. Unfortunately, some people hardly if ever visit the dentist. They may not realize that constantly sore, swollen, red, or bleeding gums are warning signs of periodontal disease (gum disease). This is a serious bacterial infection that, left untreated, will lead to tooth loss as well as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, certain cancers, and premature/underweight newborns. A constant bacterial infection in your mouth causes a huge immunological cascade of events. However, the immune system cannot accesses the bacteria in the mouth. There is a huge inflammatory process that has significant consequences for the rest of your body.
Gum disease can affect one tooth or the whole mouth. The most common signs of gum disease is bleeding gum tissue. It begins when the bacteria in plaque (colorless thick film of bacteria that sticks to teeth) causes the gums to become inflamed. The plaque is a breeding ground for more bacteria. The bacteria go the bathroom in your mouth and release toxins.
The first stage of periodontal disease is called Gingivitis. It is characterized by gum tissue that is red, swollen and bleeds easily. Unfortunately, there is no pain or discomfort with gum disease. Gingivitis is usually caused by insufficient home oral hygiene. It is projected that up to ninety percent of the adult population suffers from some form of gum disease. The great news is that gingivitis is reversible with professional dental cleanings and good oral home care.
Gingivitis advances to full on periodontal disease. The bacteria in plaque spreads and grow below the gum tissue. Toxins excreted by bacteria irritates and destroys the gum tissue. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response and the gum tissue and bone that support the teeth are destroyed. The gum tissue separates from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that allow more bacteria to accumulate and multiply. As this destructive disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Over time the teeth become “loose” and the progression to tooth loss is inevitable.