Gum disease is a broad term we use to describe the entire spectrum of disease that ranges from bleeding gums in the early stages to advanced periodontal disease. Gum disease is a progressive disease that goes through stages as it gets worse and worse. And the first stage is bleeding gums.
When gums bleed, we call this gingivitis. Gingivitis occurs when bacteria invade your gum tissues causing redness, swelling, inflammation, and bleeding. Any time you notice “swollen gums” or bleeding, this means that inflammation is present.
One important thing to remember is that you can have gingivitis and bleeding gums without being aware of it. This is so because often times blood is oozing out slowly under the gum tissues where you don’t notice it.
If bleeding gums are not stopped, the bacteria will next invade the bone under the gums causing irreversible bone damage, and this stage is called periodontitis, or periodontal disease. So the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis is whether bone damage has occurred.
Here is the progression of gum disease: gingivitis – early periodontitis – moderate periodontitis – advanced periodontitis – tooth loss.
The critical thing to understand is that bleeding is the giant red flag indicating that bacteria have invaded the gums and are causing inflammation! In the early stages, gingivitis can be reversed. BUT, once the bacteria invade the bone, the damage can only be managed but not cured.
Gingivitis is the gateway through which you must pass to get to periodontitis where permanent damage has occurred. You cannot go from health to periodontal disease without going through the bleeding gums stage.
Therefore gingivitis is the critical stage at which to intercept this disease process, because once you move past gingivitis, you can never go back. It’s a one way door. And that is why controlling bleeding gums and gingivitis is so important.
And what is worse is that we now know that the inflammation associated with gingivitis is linked to serious health risks like heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. When your gums start to bleed, it’s like a loud warning bell ringing to notify you of serious health problems coming your way.
Despite the decades long battle to stop gingivitis, and the millions of dollars spent on dental care, studies still show that up to 75% of all adults have gingivitis. Thus it is probable that right now, you have gingivitis in your mouth that may be damaging your health.
The sad part is that gingivitis can be completely eliminated if you know what to do. There are new products and techniques out there that are very effective. It would be wise for you to take immediate steps to find out if you have gingivitis and the associated health risks, and what to do about it – before permanent damage occurs.