Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease)
Gum disease (also referred to as periodontal disease) is an infection of the bone and soft tissues that support the teeth. Did you know that gingivitis is the earliest form of gum disease and that it only affects the soft tissues such as the gums?
More advanced forms of the disease infect bones and supporting structures of the teeth. If left untreated the advanced forms of gum disease can cause eventual tooth loss.
The Causes of Gum Disease
A number of factors can contribute to your risk of developing gum disease, including plaque and bacteria buildup in the mouth, hormonal shifts, smoking, nutritional deficiencies, some prescription medications, uneven teeth and even genetics.
If you are experiencing bleeding gums then you may need to schedule an appointment with your dentist as this is a sign of gum disease. Your mouth can contain millions of bacteria on a daily basis which can build up and lead to gum disease. Appropriate oral hygiene including teeth brushing can help disrupt the bacteria and protect your oral health.
When your body tries to clear away the bacteria on its own it will send extra blood to the affected area such as your gums. The excess blood may cause swelling, soreness, bleeding and redness. Your body thinks it has an infection - this is called gingivitis, and it won't heal until the source of the infection is eliminated.
Bacteria can be found in plaque, tartar or calculus, pockets beneath the gums (in cases of advanced gum disease), cavities, abscesses and chipped teeth. Bacteria can hide in any ridge including those caused by old dental work.
The Prevention of Gum Disease
When it comes to the prevention of gum disease, there are no shortcuts. The best way to avoid developing gum disease is to maintain good oral hygiene habits, plain and simple.
It takes more than just the bacteria alone to cause gum disease. By maintaining a complete oral hygiene routine you can help prevent the build-up of this bacteria.
For example, while you may be prone to plaque buildup (perhaps due to genetics), as long as you brush and floss your teeth twice a day and visit your dentist as prescribed for regular professional cleanings and checkups, chances are that gum disease will not be able to fully develop.
Whether a pregnancy causes a hormonal shift, you take prescription medication or are a regular smoker, the most common cause of gum disease is the unimpeded development of bacteria and plaque in the mouth.
Most of the time, gum disease can be easily prevented with a good oral hygiene routine. While the issues listed above can increase your risk (and make prevention more challenging), whether it actually develops comes down to the decisions you make every day about your oral health practices.