Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the gums and the bones that support the teeth. It is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. This disease is caused by bacteria that build up on the teeth and gums.
This bacteria can form plaque, a sticky film that can harden into tartar. If plaque is not removed, it can irritate the gums and cause them to become inflamed and red. If the inflammation is not treated, it can lead to gum disease.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
The early stages of gum disease are often painless, so it is important to see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. However, there are some signs and symptoms of gum disease that you can watch out for, including:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
- Pus between the teeth and gums
The main cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. When you don’t brush and floss your teeth regularly, plaque builds up on your teeth and gums. Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria. Over time, plaque can harden into tartar. Tartar can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist. Anyone can develop gum disease, but there are certain factors that can increase your risk, including:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Dry mouth
- Certain medications
- Family history of gum disease
Complications of Gum Disease
If gum disease is not treated, it can lead to a number of serious complications, including:
- Tooth loss
- Bone loss
- Increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic health conditions
Diagnosis and Treatment:
Gum disease is diagnosed by a dentist or periodontist (a dentist who specializes in gum disease). The dentist will examine your gums and teeth and may take X-rays to assess the bone loss around your teeth.
Treatment for gum disease will vary depending on the severity of the disease. For mild gum disease, your dentist may recommend more frequent professional cleanings and better oral hygiene habits. For more severe gum disease, your dentist may recommend scaling and root planing, which is a procedure to remove plaque and tartar from below the gum line. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat gum disease.
Prevention of Gum Disease
The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice good oral hygiene. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, flossing once a day, and using a mouthwash. You should also see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
Tips for Prevention:
- Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time with fluoride toothpaste.
- Floss once a day to remove plaque and tartar from between your teeth and below your gum line.
- Use a mouthwash to kill bacteria and freshen your breath.
- See your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
Gum disease is a serious condition that can lead to tooth loss and other health problems. However, it is preventable and treatable. By practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings, you can keep your gums healthy and protect your teeth for a lifetime.