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Dentistry

5 gum disease myths and the facts behind them

Half of adults age 30 and over have some form of gum disease.1 Yet most don't know it. So it's not surprising that misinformation about the disease abounds. To help you gain the upper hand — and avoid the potentially serious oral health issues that can follow when gum disease is left untreated — consider the facts behind five common myths.

Myth 1: No cavities means no gum disease

Both cavities and gum disease generally result from poor oral hygiene habits. But they aren't directly related, and you can experience either one without the other. Specifically, gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque — a sticky film of bacteria that naturally forms on teeth when we eat and drink. Plaque can lead to gingivitis, or inflamed gums, which is the first stage of gum disease.

Myth 2: No pain means no gum disease

While tender gums can be a symptom of gum disease, the problem can also progress painlessly. Here are some signs that indicate it's time to see your dentist:

  • Red or purplish gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Gums bleed easily
  • Receding gum line (gums pulling away from your teeth)
  • Loose teeth or new space between teeth
  • Change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Change in the fit of partial dentures
  • Bad breath or a persistent bad taste in your mouth
  • Myth 3: Prevention means brushing and flossing

    Brushing and flossing remove plaque, making them an essential tactic for preventing gum disease. But you can also take additional preventive steps, including these:

  • Use an antibacterial mouth rinse
  • Don't smoke or chew tobacco
  • Eat a nutritious diet (including sufficient vitamin C) to support your body's immune system, which fights infection
  • Reduce stress as another way to keep your immune system strong
  • Myth 4: Losing teeth is inevitable

    Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults. But if you catch and treat it early, you have a good chance of saving your teeth. Even if the disease has progressed, your dentist can develop a treatment plan to minimize or possibly avoid tooth loss.

    Myth 5: Surgery is the only solution for gum disease

    Surgery may be recommended in advanced cases of gum disease. But other treatment options may also be available, depending on the severity of your condition. These might include scaling and root planing, a form of deep dental cleaning that goes below your gumline. In general, treatments are designed to reduce swelling, reattach gums to teeth, stop infection and halt the progress of the disease.

    Fact: Gum disease prevention is possible with good oral hygiene

    The most important steps you can take to ward off gum disease are to brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily and have a professional dental cleaning twice a year. These cleanings also give your dentist a chance to catch gum disease in the early stages, when it's most treatable. You can use your CareCredit credit card to pay for co-pays and other expenses not covered by your dental insurance.

    Use our Acceptance Locator or download the CareCredit Mobile App to find a qualified dental practice near you that accepts CareCredit.

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