Gum Disease: 10 Myths, Facts & Stats

Have you seen some traces of red when biting into an apple? Or when brushing your teeth? Have you blamed it on improper biting or hard brushing? Well, although possible, these signs might as well be related to an early stage of gum disease.

In a recent survey on DentaVox among 394 respondents, we explored if people can recognize the symptoms of gum disease and what they think about some of the most popular notions on the topic:

  • Can bad breath be a sign of gum disease?
  • Is blood in the sink while brushing normal?
  • Can gum disease affect other organs as well?

Let’s check the results, confirm the facts, and bust the myths together!

#1: Gum disease is a rare condition: MYTH

Regardless of how much we’d like to confirm this statement, gum disease is actually a very common issue all across the world. Although the majority of respondents in our survey (46%) correctly define it as a rather frequent burden, it is worrying to note that 37% of them see periodontal disease as a rare condition.

In fact, CDC research shows the prevalence of periodontitis in half of Americans aged 30+ and the World Health Organization reports that severe forms of gum disease are found in 10% of the global population. The good news is that if detected in an early stage, gum disease is preventable with perfect oral hygiene, healthy habits, and regular dental check-ups.

#2: Gum disease can be difficult to detect in early stages: SO-SO

Around 60% of DentaVox survey participants believe initial warning signs of gum disease can be difficult to recognize. Specialists confirm, yet also point out the importance of not overlooking obvious but perceived as not serious first symptoms such as inflammation, bleeding, bad breath.

Gum disease starts when bacteria and plaque start to build up beneath the gum line. Until it becomes advanced, though, many people don’t even think twice about those signs which is the main reason why gum disease is often detected when it’s already hard or impossible to reverse it. To ensure proper prevention and early detection, make sure you practice proper at-home oral hygiene, visit your dentist twice a year, and never skip your teeth cleaning sessions.

#3: Bad breath can be a sign of gum disease: FACT

Here the crowd is certain: 85% of the people questioned identify foul breath as a possible trait of periodontal disease. What could be the other warning signs of it? See below.

Signs of gum disease (.png)

#4: Not having cavities doesn’t mean your gums are healthy: FACT

We all know that teeth and gums go hand in hand. But do we tend to pay more attention to the hard than to the soft tissues in our mouths? Although the majority is on the opposite side, 10% of DentaVox respondents still believe that if you don’t have any decayed teeth, then you don’t have any gum problems as well.

The truth: Even though being cavity-free is great, it doesn’t mean you are at no risk of developing gum disease. Check your gums regularly!

#5: Diabetes means you’ll certainly get gum disease: MYTH

The largest share of survey participants (38%) think that having diabetes does not necessarily lead to periodontitis, while 28% connect both conditions directly. The one-third of undecided respondents and the overall dispersed answers clearly show confusion on this topic.

So is there any correlation? Diabetes is a condition that nearly half a billion people globally live with. Poorly regulated blood sugar can lead to health issues with the heart, kidneys, eyes, and nerves. It could also make it more difficult to handle gum disease but diabetes is not proven as a cause of periodontitis. Thanks to all the advancements in the field, people with diabetes can now control their blood sugar much better than before and should take the same perfect care of their teeth and gums as people without diabetes.

#6: Blood in the sink while brushing is not normal: FACT

“I sometimes spit blood while brushing teeth but that’s it, nothing to worry about”… How many times have you thought/ read/ heard this sentence? Overlooking even a drop of blood in the sink can lead to irreversible problems later. Healthy gums do not bleed and 79% of respondents agree with this fact.

So what are the most common causes of gum bleeding? Let’s find out:

Top 5 causes of bleeding gums (.png)

#7: Receding gums cannot grow back: SO-SO

Once gums start to recede, they cannot grow back alone. That is precisely why noticing and treating the issue at its earliest stage is crucial. However, certain procedures can help gums to reattach or regenerate. Mild gum recession may be treated by deep scaling, while for severe cases gum surgery would most likely be required (such as open flap scaling and root planing, regeneration, or soft tissue/ gum graft).

If you suspect you may have symptoms of gum recession, visit your dentist as soon as possible. They will help you identify the cause and advise you on the appropriate treatment.

#8: The best treatment for gum disease is antibiotics: SO-SO

Most surveyed people are not sure if taking antibiotics is the most effective solution for treating gum disease. But what do experts think?

Research shows that antibiotics can assist in treating gum disease. However, medical and dental specialists are more concerned than ever about the overuse of these medications because of the possibility to develop resistance. Turn to your dentist for advice. There are other surgical and non-surgical treatments that could be a better option in your particular case.

#9: Gum disease is not only a problem of your mouth: FACT

The vast majority of people we surveyed (61%) do realize that gum disease can cause problems to other parts of our bodies as well.

And yes, your dentist might be the first medical professional to notice it, but gum disease can provenly increase the risk of numerous general health problems. Why is that? Experts can’t say for certain yet, but a few studies show that the bacteria causing periodontitis can escape into the bloodstream, “travel” through our bodies, and thus injure other organs.

Gum disease affects the entire body (.png)

#10: Gum disease affects all races and ethnicities equally: SO-SO

Gum disease is indeed a global burden. This probably explains why 77% of DentaVox respondents believe it affects all races and ethnicities equally.

Interestingly enough, though, it seems that people of Black African and Hispanic heritage are more likely to develop periodontal problems than people of European descent, according to some sources. The reasons, however, remain unclear and professionals speculate that the frequency of dental visits, the difference in inflammatory responses and diets, as well as the susceptibility to the periodontitis-related bacteria are among the likely causes.