Types of Gum Disease – Essential Information for Keeping the Problems in Your Mouth from Spreading to the Rest of Your Body

Of all the types of gum disease, gingivitis is by far the best know. Starting with an accumulation of bacteria called plaque on the surface of a tooth, gingivitis creates a signal to the immune system to send out inflammatory hormones to kill the infection. The inflammation, however, also destroys the gums.

To stop gingivitis, brush and floss and get regular cleanings at the dentist’s office to stop the plaque. But other forms of gum disease may be harder to handle.

  1. Black gum disease is the result an aggressive infection. If you have gingivitis, your gums will be inflamed and red. If you have black gum disease, also known as necrotizing ulcerative periodontitis, then your gums will develop cone-shaped areas of blackened, dying tissue that can burrow into bone. You may also have excruciating jaw pain and invincible bad breath. Blackened areas on the gum are a signal for urgent dental care.
  2. Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a common complication of diabetes, autoimmune disease, and many medications. Drying out the mouth can cause cracks in the gums that provide a safe harbor for infections. You can’t get rid of these infections for good unless you treat the condition that causes dry mouth.
  3. Vitamin deficiencies can cause bleeding gums. The classic vitamin deficiency disease associated with gum decay is scurvy, caused by not getting enough vitamin C for approximately 60 days or more. It is hard to avoid getting enough vitamin C, since a single piece of fruit or serving of vegetables a day or a single 100-milligram vitamin C supplement a day will prevent this problem. (Higher doses may be required for other health issues.)
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    Vitamin K deficiency may prevent formation of clotting factors and lead to bleeding gums, although it would be unusual for this deficiency not also to cause bruising and easy bleeding elsewhere in the body. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables, but the body cannot absorb it unless it is dissolved in fat. More people don’t eat enough green leafy vegetables than do not eat enough fat. People who have celiac disease or ulcerative colitis may also have problems absorbing vitamin K.

  5. Flossing too aggressively causes gum bleeding between the teeth. Always loop floss around a tooth to get particles off the tooth, not out of the gums.
  6. Brushing the teeth with a hard-bristle toothbrush can bruise or lacerate the gums and also cause permanent damage to tooth enamel.
  7. Lead poisoning’s earliest symptoms include bleeding of the gums. You don’t have to live in an aging house painted with lead-based paint to get lead poisoning. Imported pottery used to serve acidic beverages is a more common source of the problem. Either buy an inexpensive test kit at your local hardware store to make sure that your pottery does not contain lead that can lead into orange juice or lemonade, or use questionable containers for decoration, not service.
  8. Chronic periodontitis is an accumulation of large amounts of hardened plaque around teeth that haven’t been cleaned over a period of several years or more. It can cause gingivitis, or just cause gingival recession, in which the teeth appear to get longer because the gums no longer are attached at the base of the teeth.
  9. Aggressive periodontitis is a rapidly worsening gum infection that usually occurs around puberty, and almost never occurs in anyone over the age of 30. The infection looses the gums, and then attacks the jawbone. It is usually treated with a combination of antibiotics and surgical removal of infected tissue and bone.
  10. Pregnancy gingivitis, as its name suggests, only occurs during pregnancy. Untreated bleeding gums in pregnant women, however, can trigger inflammation traveling to the placenta that leads to premature delivery, a potentially life-threatening condition known as eclampsia, or stillbirth.
  11. Pyorrhea is a collection of diseases, not a single disease. All forms of pyorrhea, however, inflame the gums.