Gum Disease and Men
Healthy gums are vitally important for everyone’s oral hygiene. But it is even more crucial for men, who have a significantly higher incidence of gum disease than women. Perhaps this is because men are more reluctant to visit a dentist, or because they produce more plaque and tartar — those troublesome, decay-causing deposits on our teeth.
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What are the Warning Signs of Gum Disease?
The warning signs of gum disease — also known as periodontal disease — include tender, puffy, bleeding, bright red or purplish gums, painful chewing, bad breath, and even loose teeth. Periodontists specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Periodontists receive three additional years of training after dental school and are experts in the latest treatment techniques, including placing dental implants to replace roots and cosmetic procedures.
Has Gum Disease Been Linked to Other Diseases?
Research has found that periodontal disease is higher in men (56.4%) than in women (38.4%). Gum disease has been linked to some serious illnesses affecting men, including heart disease, prostate conditions, and impotence. Research has indicated that men with signs of gum disease as well as inflammation of the prostate have higher levels of prostate-specific antigen — the enzyme that serves as a marker in prostate cancer screening tests. This means the health of the gums and prostate may be linked. Gum disease also has been associated with higher incidences of pancreatic, kidney, and blood cancer.
Is Periodontal Disease Linked to Heart Disease?
Periodontal disease has also been shown to increase the risk of another chronic inflammatory illness — heart disease, which is significantly more prevalent in men than women. Men younger than 30 or older than 70 who have gum disease also face a higher risk of becoming impotent, with chronic inflammation damaging blood vessels potentially being the cause.
Find a Periodontist
Don’t wait for the warning signs of gum disease to receive a thorough examination. Periodontists are all highly trained and qualified to address your concerns before they worsen. Don’t hesitate to schedule an examination and consultation to find out more about your oral health.
Gum Disease FAQs
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a common oral health condition characterized by inflammation and infection of the gums and surrounding tissues supporting teeth. It typically starts with plaque formation, a sticky film of bacteria, on the teeth, and along the gumline. If not adequately removed through regular brushing and flossing, the plaque hardens into tartar, leading to gum irritation and swelling. As the disease progresses, the gums may recede, forming pockets between the teeth and gums, causing further bacterial growth and potential damage to the bone and connective tissues.
If left untreated, it can result in tooth loss and may have broader implications for overall health, as it has been linked to certain systemic conditions. Regular dental check-ups and good oral hygiene are crucial for prevention and early detection.
Depending on the stage and severity of the problem, symptoms can change. In its early stage, known as gingivitis, common symptoms include red, swollen, and tender gums and gum bleeding during brushing or flossing. Bad breath (halitosis) and a mild change in the gum’s appearance may also be noticed. As it progresses to a more advanced stage called periodontitis, symptoms may worsen, with gums receding from the teeth, creating pockets, and leading to loose or shifting teeth.
Periodontitis may also show up as persistent poor breath, an unpleasant aftertaste, and changes in how the teeth bite together. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s essential to seek dental evaluation and treatment promptly to prevent further damage to your oral health.
Gum disease is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene habits that lead to the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth and along the gumline. When plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, is not effectively removed through regular brushing and flossing, it can irritate and inflame the gums, leading to gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, where the infection spreads to the deeper tissues and bone supporting the teeth.
Other contributing factors include smoking, hormonal changes (e.g., during pregnancy or menopause), certain medications, genetic predisposition, and certain health conditions that weaken the immune system. Regular dental check-ups and maintaining good oral hygiene practices are crucial in preventing this disease.
You can prevent gum disease by adopting good oral hygiene practices. This includes brushing your teeth at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily to remove plaque and food particles between the teeth, and using an antiseptic mouthwash to reduce bacteria. Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings are essential to detect and address early signs. Avoid smoking and limit sugary and starchy foods that contribute to plaque formation. Maintain a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals that support gum health.
Awareness of risk factors, such as hormonal changes and specific health conditions, can also help you take proactive measures to prevent this. By following these steps, you can significantly reduce your risk and maintain optimal oral health.