Over 80% of U.S. adults suffer from some degree of gum disease, making it one of the most common diseases in America. Yet, most of us don’t know much about gum disease.  Even worse, what we think we know may not be completely true.  Here are some useful (and actual) facts about this often ignored part of our body.


  1. Gum disease is silent. The odds are you have gum disease but don’t know it. Less than 60% of people with gum disease even know they have it because early symptoms are easy to miss. That’s why it is called a “silent” disease.  Only when the disease reaches advanced levels do you notice a change to the mouth and gums. If you wait until you see or feel symptoms, you are increasing your risk of serious oral health problems.


  1. Gum disease isn’t just a disease for older people. A common misconception is that gum disease is something that only afflicts the senior population. The truth is anyone — even children — can get gum disease. Even pets get gum disease. That’s why it’s so important for people of all ages to get regular dental checkups every six months to make sure your oral health is on the up and up. If you are concerned that you may have gum disease, ask your dentist if he has probed your gums recently and what the pocket depths were.


  1. Gum disease is contagious. “Cooties” are real — and in the case of gum disease, you can unwittingly pass the disease on to your loved ones through the simple acts of sharing food and drinks or kissing. Even the act of double dipping in a shared bowl is a major offender in spreading gum disease. Be aware of you and your family’s habits when it comes to being exposed to “cooties!”


  1. “Pink in the sink” is not normal. You may think that spitting out a few spots of blood after brushing and flossing is a run-of-the-mill occurrence, but it isn’t. Your gums should not be bleeding — period. If you’ve noticed that “pink in the sink” is a routine part of your brushing, you need to address it with your dentist.


  1. Chronic bad breath is a sign of gum disease. Most of us have experienced waking up to a case of “morning breath” on occasion. But if you notice that your breath seems less-than-fresh on a recurring basis even though you are brushing like normal, it can indicate that you have gum disease. Gum disease is a bacterial infection, which puts off an unpleasant odor. Don’t just stock up on mints — make sure you’re getting to the root of problem.


  1. Gum disease is linked to other serious conditions, including heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and more. Learning about the links between gum disease and these other “scarier” diseases, as well as the overall importance of oral health, is key to ensuring people change their lifestyle habits to improve their gums and general health. Learn more about the illnesses with links to gum disease.


  1. Gum disease can be hereditary. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, research has indicated that genetics can influence a person’s susceptibility to gum disease. That means that even if you have impeccable oral health habits, you could still be at risk! If gum disease seems like it runs in your family, talk to your dentist about your next steps. Most people, our parents included, don’t say much about gum disease. Gum disease may run in your family and you might not even know it.


  1. You can regenerate parts of your body! Yes, it is possible to regrow bone destroyed by gum disease. A big part of the reason so many people shy away from treating their gum disease is fear of the surgical options. While cut-and-sew methods and placement of dental implants are frequently thought of as the only ways to deal with problem teeth, there is an alternative that can help you save and even regrow lost bone. The LANAP laser treatment doesn’t require any cutting or sewing and is the only treatment method that has been FDA cleared to regenerate (aka regrow) bone and tissues lost to gum disease.


  1. Dental implants can get gum disease too. Experts estimate between 3-20% of implants fail due to infection, or peri-implant disease. Implants themselves can’t become diseased but the tissue around implants can become infected. Infection can set in when bacteria is present during oral surgery or any time post-surgery without proper oral hygiene. It can also be caused when dental cement escapes from under the crown during cementation and gets caught in the gums. Making sure gum disease is treated before implant placement is crucial. If you think your implant may be failing, the LAPIP treatment can help.


  1. Losing teeth shortens your life. Research shows that the more missing natural teeth a person has, life expectancy decreases. The study showed that those with 20 or more natural teeth at the age of 70 had a considerably higher life expectancy than those who didn’t. Just another reason to keep your natural teeth as long as possible!