Have you been told you have gum disease?
Once you have been made aware of having periodontal disease, as it is more formally known, what do you do about it? What precautions do you need to take? Is gum disease contagious?
Here is what you need to know.
Causes of Gum Disease
Essentially, gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque and bacteria on the teeth. The more time it has to build without being removed, the greater chance it has of aggravating the gums and getting underneath them.
This overabundance of plaque and gum disease can appear for many different reasons. While some people may be more susceptible than others, anyone can get it if the right precautions are not taken.
A few common causes of gum disease include:
- Having poor oral health
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Dry mouth
- Hormonal changes
Medically, you may be more susceptible to gum disease if you:
- Have diabetes
- Are on medications that impact saliva production
- Have certain illnesses, including AIDs
Is Gum Disease Contagious?
It may come as a surprise to you, but yes — gum disease is contagious. It can spread from one person to the next through saliva. As an example, does it mean that if you are married to someone with periodontal disease, you are going to get it? No. But it does mean your risk is slightly more elevated than it otherwise would. What’s more, parents who have gum disease and share drinks or food with their kids are putting them at risk, too.
Just because someone you know or love has gum disease does not mean you will get it. Just be sure to take steps to stop it before it can start – especially since it can impact you due to the long list of reasons above.
Signs of Gum Disease
Because many people do not even realize they have gum disease, they could be spreading it without knowing. It is always a good idea to educate yourself on the signs – whether for yourself or someone else.
You may be suffering from periodontal disease if you experience any of the following:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Chronic bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- Gums that are sore, red, and/or swollen
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
As the bacteria that cause gum disease can spread to other people, it can also spread throughout the body —- to the heart and organs. Periodontal disease tends to have a connection to health concerns such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and chronic fatigue, amongst others.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
On a positive note, there are ways to prevent gum disease as well as halt its progression if you are already dealing with the signs. It will take some time and dedication to your oral health, but it is possible.
- Brush your teeth at least twice each day
- Floss daily — do not skip this step
- Show up to your dentist’s office for routine cleaning appointments every six months
How can you stop the spread of this contagious bacteria? That is simple — don’t share saliva. While there are many reasons why you should not share food and drinks, you most definitely do not want to share these things or engage in kissing with someone who has poor oral health and hygiene.
Learn More About Gum Disease from Dr. Chui
Still have questions about gum disease?
Dr. Chui and his team at San Francisco Dental Wellness have what it takes to treat and prevent gum disease. And, of course, answer any questions you may have. Dr. Chui is also the clinical director at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and provides effective treatment to veterans suffering from complex TMJ disorders.