Gum disease, or Periodontitis, is an infection of the gums and supporting tissues of the teeth. It is usually caused by Biofilm (plaque), calculus, and tartar on the teeth which when left untreated as a result of poor oral hygiene creates an infection in the gums. Though everyone has some plaque on their teeth, if left unremoved due to lack of regular brushing, flossing, and water pik use and daily cleaning, it can build up and cause more harmful bacteria to form and cause gum disease.
Other health factors can influence the onset of gum disease including, genetics, stress, bruxism (teeth grinding), smoking or other tobacco use, poor nutrition, and diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum inflammation, or Gingivitis is the mildest form of Periodontitis and often precedes more serious gum disease. Gingivitis can cause gums to become red, swollen and tender and your gums may bleed easily while brushing or flossing. It’s important to note, however, that in the early stages of gum disease there may be no symptoms, making consistent good dental hygiene even more important.
Symptoms of more advanced gum disease include:
- Receding gums
- Bad Breath
- Loose teeth
- Mouth sores
If gum disease is more advanced, it may require Periodontal therapy. Non-surgical periodontal therapy includes scaling which is the process of removing plaque and other deposits from the tooth, and underneath the gum line, or root planing which is more detailed scaling of the root surface to help with inflammation caused by the infection. At times periodontal surgery may be needed to restore form and function of the gum tissue and underlying bone.
Preventing Gum Disease
The best prevention of gum disease may be as simple as practicing good oral hygiene including brushing at least two times a day or after every meal, flossing at least once a day, use of a water pik, use of mouthwash, and visiting the dentist every six months for cleanings and evaluations.