Gum disease is a condition caused by a bacterial infection that affects the soft tissue. Also known as gingivitis, the infection is usually caused by poor oral hygiene. If not treated, gingivitis can become periodontitis. This is a serious gum condition that can lead to the destruction of the jawbone that supports the teeth.
Periodontitis can cause loose teeth and eventual tooth loss. Gum disease is common, but it is also preventable. Proper daily oral hygiene and getting regular dental checkups can help reduce the chances of developing gum disease.
The gums are attached to the teeth at a point that is lower than the visible gum edges. This creates a tiny space known as a sulcus. Food material and plaque can become trapped in the space, causing gingivitis or gum infection. Plaque is the film of bacteria that constantly forms on the tooth surface.
As the plaque continues to advance, it hardens, becoming tartar. When plaque develops below the gumline, it can lead to infection. If not controlled, gingivitis can cause the separation of the gums from the teeth. This injures the soft tissue and the supporting bone.
There are risk factors that can lead to the development of gum disease. Some of the risk factors are diabetes, certain medication, obesity, smoking and tobacco products, and crooked teeth. Other risk factors include poor nutrition, poorly fitting dental devices, broken fillings, and pregnancy. There are genetic factors that can predispose one to gum disease. People who have compromised immunity, including those with HIV/AIDS, are highly susceptible to gum disease.
It is important to realize that gum disease can be present without symptoms. Most people may not be aware that they have the disease during the early stages. There are, however, some early signs of the disease.
The signs include red, tender, or swollen gums, gums that bleed when brushing or flossing, sensitive teeth, and loose teeth. Other signs include receding gums that appear pulled from the teeth, ill-fitting partial dentures, and pain when chewing. A change in the bite, bad breath, and pus between the gums and teeth are also signs of gum disease.
Seeking treatment as soon as possible can prevent the development of periodontitis and loss of teeth. If the disease progresses, bacteria from gum disease can get into the bloodstream through the gum tissue, affecting other parts of the body. Gum disease can be linked to respiratory illness, coronary artery disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and blood sugar problems in diabetics.
There are several things that you can do to prevent gum disease. The best thing that you can do for your gums is to follow a good oral hygiene routine. Daily brushing and flossing are vital for gum health.
Brushing at least two times a day and flossing once a day will help get rid of harmful bacteria. Regular dental visits are also important for preventing gum disease. It is important to visit a dentist annually or twice a year for checkups and cleaning.
It is very important to seek early treatment for gum disease. Seeking early treatment can improve the chances of reversing damage from the disease.
For more on gum disease, contact Woodyard Dental Care at our office in Paducah, Kentucky. You can call us at (270) 213-6620 today to schedule an appointment.