Gum disease is a common oral health condition. It is estimated that over 40% of adults in America over the age of 30 have some degree of gum disease. If you notice tender gums or blood in the sink when you brush your teeth, you may have gingivitis, an early form of gum disease.
Why is gum disease so prevalent? Can it be prevented? Learn how to protect yourself from gum disease before it becomes a chronic problem.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, officially referred to as periodontal disease in dentistry, is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. It is caused by plaque, a sticky film made of food residue and bacteria that clings to the teeth. When plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing, it can harden into calculus, which is much more difficult to remove. Calculus also contains mature bacteria that are able and more likely to infect the gum tissue.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
The follow symptoms may indicate the presence of gum disease:
- Red or swollen gum tissue
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
- Abscesses (bumps the form on the gum tissue)
- Loose teeth
- Loss of teeth
- Bad breath
How is Gum Disease Treated?
In order to treat gum disease, plaque and calculus need to be removed from the teeth and roots. This is done using dental tools in a process called scaling and root planing. Scaling involves the removal of plaque and calculus from the teeth, both above and below the gums. Root planing smooths the surface of the tooth roots so that the gums can attach tightly to the roots without spaces for plaque to gather. These periodontal procedures may need to be repeated every few months to keep gum disease from recurring.
How To Prevent Gum Disease
Of course the best case scenario is to avoid gum disease altogether. The following can prevent you from developing gum disease:
- Brush your teeth twice a day. Brushing your teeth twice a day will remove the majority of the plaque from your teeth before it hardens into calculus.
- Floss once a day. Flossing your teeth daily removes plaque from the spaces between your teeth and the pockets between your teeth and gums. It also makes your gum tissue more resilient and resistant to infection.
- Go to the dentist every 6 months. You should go to the dentist for professional dental cleanings and oral exams every 6 months. These appointments remove the plaque and calculus from your teeth and detect the presence of gum disease in the early stages when it is easier to treat.
- Use mouthwash. Mouthwash kills the bacteria in your mouth that causes gum disease. When you rinse your mouth with mouthwash it can get into the small spaces where bacteria tends to settle.
Is Gum Disease Serious?
Gum disease may start off as a minor issue, if it goes untreated it can become serious and negatively affect your overall health and wellness. Chronic gum disease can damage the support structures for the teeth, causing them to become loose and even fall out. Untreated gum disease can eventually cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body. Gum disease has even been linked to heart disease and diabetes.
Can Gum Disease Be Cured?
Once gum disease develops it can be difficult to cure. The further it progresses the less it responds to the usual treatments. In some cases it can only be kept under control, but can’t be completely eliminated. This is why prevention is so important.
Prevent Gum Disease With Help From Greater Essex Dental
Regular dental care from a trusted dental practice is a key element in preventing gum disease. Greater Essex Dental provides treatment for existing gum disease as well as the services that help to prevent it. We believe that your oral health has a huge impact on your overall health and wellness, which is why we provide education and assistance with gum disease prevention and treatment.