What is Gum Disease / Gingivitis / Periodontitis?
Gum disease can affect many people during cancer treatment. Healthy gums are pink, smooth and free of harmful bacteria. Unhealthy gums are often red, swollen and may bleed… they are inflamed. This is known as gum disease, gingivitis or periodontal disease, (depending on the severity) and is caused by a harmful bacterial infection. Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection of the gums.
(Find out if you are at risk with our Dentimed Dental Risk Assessment Form For Peridontal (Gum))
Periodontal disease is a progressive disease and will get worse without intervention (see the image below). This is why as dental professionals we suggest regular dental check ups to identify issues early.
The gum disease bacteria live in, and feed off, the plaque on unclean teeth. These bacteria don’t like oxygen so they burrow deep down under the gums where they enter the blood stream and circulate throughout our body, (i.e. the bacterial infection is now systemic).
One of the common signs of gum disease is bleeding gums when you brush or floss. This is a sign that the bacterial infection has made its way into the blood stream. Bleeding gums (no matter whether it’s a little or a lot) are not ok! There should be zero tolerance for bleeding gums!
Please note that a smoker’s gums often do not bleed even where there is an active bacterial infection… So don’t be lulled into a false sense that everything is ok.
Do your gums bleed?
The surface area of our gums is about the same as our forearm…
That is a lot of surface area for such a small space! If you had a chronic bacterial infection on your skin, the size of your forearm, and it was inflamed and bleeding, you would take it very seriously. We need to do the same with our mouths!
Gum disease is called a silent disease – you can have it and not know… it is totally painless until it’s too late.
For individuals with a compromised immune system, periodontal disease can be a very significant issue as systemic infections can be life threatening. Please visit us to find out if you are at risk… without exaggeration, you’re life may just depend on it!