Gum Disease: Periodontal Disease
If you have heard your dentist mention gingivitis they are actually referring to the earliest stages of gum disease which primarily affect the soft tissues within your mouth.
More advanced forms of the disease infect bones and supporting structures of the teeth. If this is left untreated it can cause you to experience tooth loss.
What are 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.
You should reach out and schedule a dental visit right away if you notice that your gums are bleeding as this is one of the telltale signs of gum disease. 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 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. They may also hide in old dental work, as repairs to your teeth create an edge or margin that bacteria can adhere to.
What steps can you take to avoid gum disease?
The best way that you can help prevent gum disease is to always thoroughly brush and floss as well as attend ongoing preventive hygiene visits.
None of the above-listed factors alone can cause gum disease to develop and thrive. If you maintain a rigorous and thorough oral hygiene routine, it will be 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.
Most of the time, gum disease can be easily prevented with a good oral hygiene routine. The causes listed above will increase your risk of gum disease but refraining from proper dental hygiene will also affect the health of your teeth and mouth.