Do You Have Gum Disease?

Dr. Cecile Sebastian
Dr. Cecile Sebastian

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- It's a disease that affects more than 80 percent of American adults -- and most people don't even know they have it.

It's periodontal, or gum disease. In its early stages, it can cause bad breath and tender gums. But, if left unchecked recent studies show it can lead to a host of other health problems. And, eventually cause you to lose your teeth.

Going to the dentist.

It's not something most people look forward too. But Dr. Cecile Sebastian says its more important than you might think; because gum disease has been linked to other serious diseases.

"Every month there seems to be new research coming out the links between inflammation of the mouth to something systemic, for example heart disease and diabetes," said Sebastian.

This is a healthy mouth. But, as gum disease progresses, the picture gets progressively worse.

Five years ago, Chuck DeFrancis was surprised to find out he had a severe case of gum disease.

"I brushed my teeth with a brush but it wasn't very effective," said DeFrancis. "I got gum disease and I wasn't very aware of it. I didn't go to a dentist for a long time, many years I just thought everything was fine if I just brushed my teeth."

Chuck lost several of his teeth. But, after five years of treatment and a change in oral hygiene habits, at today's checkup, he has healthy a very healthy mouth.

"So we call him our poster child for gum disease because he went from extreme neglect to an extremely conscientious patient which is really the reason for the success," said Sebastian.

Its possible to have gum disease and not have symptoms, so regular dental checkups are important. Professional treatments vary based on severity, but good oral hygiene at home is key.