Gum Disease Awareness Month started as a grassroots movement. Recognizing the epidemic-level problem of untreated gum disease in the United States, the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry (IALD) launched a campaign in 2012 to educate the public about the prevalence and the consequences of untreated gum disease.

Today, Gum Disease Awareness (or GDA for short) Month is recognized in all 50 U.S. states, as well as the territories of Guam and the Virgin Islands, supported by clinicians whose aim is to improve their patients’ understanding of the disease. If you’ve ever wondered “why” Gum Disease Awareness is important enough to deserve its own month, here are the main goals behind the movement.

Increasing awareness of gum disease

Some 85% of U.S. adults have some form of gum disease, yet treatment of gum disease is much lower than it should be. If 85% of people in the U.S. had diabetes, it would be considered a national crisis. But because oftentimes gum disease doesn’t hurt or progress to visible signs until the later stages, many people don’t consider it a big deal, especially since traditional treatments hurt.

With the advancement of implant surgeries to replace problem teeth, the goal of widespread treatment of gum disease has been further complicated. Most of us don’t realize that keeping your natural teeth has been shown to extend your life. That means even if you can afford to things like dental implants if you lose your teeth to gum disease, you still have the disease in your mouth. Your gum disease needs to be treated or it can lead to losing your expensive implant – or even other health complications.

Educating the public about the role your gums play in your overall health

New research consistently cites the implications untreated gum disease has on the rest of your health. With connections to heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, pre-term birth, Alzheimer’s and dementia and many more illnesses, your oral health should not be taken lightly.

Many of us think of the mouth as separate from the rest of the body, but why? If you have a chronic, untreated bacterial infection like gum disease in your mouth, it’s as if you have open wounds that let the bacteria travel to the rest of your body. Not to mention, if your body’s immune responses are constantly deployed fighting the effects of  gum disease, you leave yourself open to new threats in other parts of your body. These factors need to be a part of patients’ standardized education on their oral and overall health.

Eliminating fear from the perception of gum health

Many people who find out they have gum disease are reluctant to have it treated because they have either undergone painful gum disease surgery in the past or know somebody who has. What they may not know, however, is that there is a treatment method using a specific dental laser that is minimally invasive and involves very little pain and healing or downtime. The LANAP protocol with the PerioLase MVP-7 dental laser has been shown to be just as effective as traditional osseous gum disease surgery, and patients overwhelmingly prefer it because there are less pain and less post-op complications.

Now that you know why the entire country is on board with Gum Disease Awareness Month, check out our Awareness page to get familiar with what you can do in your own community to help spread the word about gum disease, its dangers, and how easy it is to get it treated.