Gum Disease: Awareness and Prevention
The national campaign for Gum Disease Awareness month is aimed at raising awareness of the risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options associated with this disease.
But what exactly is gum disease and why should you care?
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues and structures surrounding your teeth. There are different stages of gum disease that vary in severity. You could experience simple inflammation in the gums or even major damage to the bone and soft tissue that support your teeth. In the worst cases, you may lose teeth.
The main cause of gum disease is poor oral and dental hygiene. Our mouths are home to hundreds of different types of bacteria. And while some of those bacteria can help keep our mouths healthy, others contribute to the buildup of plaque. If left alone, this plaque can lead to cavities as well as the onset of gum disease.
Below are some of the early warning signs of gum disease.
- Gums that bleed easily (especially when brushing and flossing)
- Gums that are red, swollen, or tender
- Gums that have, or are starting to, pull away from your teeth
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Changes in the way that your teeth fit together when you bite down
- Changes in the fit of partial dentures.
If you experience or notice any of these symptoms, it is important that you consult with your dentist. Left untreated, you might develop or advance your gum disease.
The three stages of gum disease are gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis.
- Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. During this stage, your gums will become inflamed from dental plaque buildup at the gum line. Typically, you will notice some redness and swelling of the gums, and brushing and flossing your teeth may cause your gums to bleed. At this stage, gum disease can be reversed.
- During the second stage of gum disease or periodontitis, the supporting bone and tissues that hold your teeth in place become irreversibly damaged. Your gums will also begin to form a pocket below your gum line. This allows plaque to penetrate and grow below the gum line.
- The most severe form of gum disease is advanced periodontitis. At this stage, the tissue and bone of your teeth are being destroyed. This may cause your teeth to shift, loosen, or fall out. This can ultimately affect your bite and alter how you eat and speak.
So how do you prevent and treat gum disease?
Maintaining proper oral and dental hygiene is the best way to prevent gum disease. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss between and around your teeth daily, eat a balanced diet and schedule regular dental visits twice a year. During these checkups, your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to remove the plaque that has built up and hardened into tartar. He or she will also be able to identify and treat the early stages of gum disease.
If your gum disease is more advanced (periodontitis, advanced periodontitis) scaling and root planning can be performed to treat the diseased periodontal pockets and infection in your gums. If your gum disease is even more severe, you may require surgery and/or tooth removal.
Do you have additional questions about gum disease or want to schedule an appointment? Contact us today!