Gum Disease & Your Oral Health
Gum disease (also referred to as periodontal disease) is an infection of the bone and soft tissues that support the teeth. Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease which only affects soft tissues.
Once the condition becomes more advanced this disease can go on to infect the bones and supporting structures of the teeth. If left untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss and significant jaw bone deterioration.
Common 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.
Bleeding gums are a clue that you may have gum disease, which is why you should schedule an appointment with your dentist if you notice that your gums are bleeding. Because your mouth contains millions of bacteria, great oral hygiene every day is a must - to disrupt the bacteria.
If it is left too long, your body will try to rid itself of undisturbed bacteria by sending more blood to 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 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. They may also hide in old dental work, as repairs to your teeth create an edge or margin that bacteria can adhere to.
Tips to Help You Prevent Gum Disease
The truth is that there are no real 'tips and tricks' when it comes to avoiding gum disease. If you want to alleviate the negative impacts that gum disease can have on your smile then maintaining good oral hygiene habits is the key to success.
None of the factors listed in the section above can be the sole cause of gum disease. Even if you have one or more of those risk factors, maintaining a rigorous and thorough oral hygiene routine will make it very difficult for gum disease to start to take hold.
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.
The vast majority of people may be able to prevent gum disease simply by implementing and maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. This is why it's important to keep in mind that 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.