Gum disease is caused by the bacteria in plaque, a sticky and colourless film that builds up on teeth. There are two stages and severity to gum disease, with the most severe case of periodontitis being the leading cause of tooth loss within adults in developed countries.
The two stages of gum disease are:
- Symptoms include gums that are inflamed, tender, red, swollen, and prone to bleeding. Persistent bad breath that lingers no matter how much you brush or use mouthwash is also a symptom, caused by bacteria in the mouth.
- At this stage, symptoms are reversible.
- Symptoms include gums that are starting to separate and recede from the teeth. This gives an opening for plaque to move towards the bones, roots, and fibers that support the teeth. As the disease progresses, the bacteria will attack and destroy the fibers and bones holding teeth in place, impacting bite and leading to the necessary removal of loose teeth.
- Damage is irreversible, but steps can be taken to reduce damage and heal.
Because symptoms may seem mild or even unnoticeable, it’s possible for the disease to reach severity without large warning signs. The best thing to do is to actively prevent gum disease.
Here are the steps you can take for gum disease prevention:
- Floss at least once a day. It doesn’t matter when you do it, as long as it’s taken care of.
- Brush twice a day.
- Get regular dentist cleanings that include periodontal check ups. These are to remove the plaque and tartar (plaque buildup that have hardened) that you will likely miss while brushing or flossing. The dentist will also check for signs of gum disease that may be otherwise unnoticed.
- Avoid smoking. It weakens the immune system, making it more difficult to fight off gum infection and for damaged gums to heal. Tobacco also contains chemicals that can slow down the healing process.
As periodontitis worsens, special procedures like scaling and root planing or even surgery may be done to try to reduce the damage. People who have had periodontitis are also more at risk to getting it again, so more cleanings and checkups will be needed. Save yourself future cost, pain and hassle by actively preventing gum disease. Practicing good oral hygiene at home and keeping an eye on the health of your teeth and gums are essential for prevention. Regular trips to the dentist will help take care of the bacteria that you aren’t able to tackle at home, as well as help keep an eye on any possible indications to gum disease.
While gum disease is common, there are actions that everyone can take to prevent it.