Gum disease is a common oral health concern primarily affecting adults who don't follow a daily dental hygiene regime. Here, our Toronto dentists share more information about the effects of poor oral hygiene and what you can do to prevent gum disease.
Gum Disease: What Is It?
Gum disease (also referred to as periodontal disease) is an infection of the bone and soft tissues that support the teeth. When you hear your dentist talking about gingivitis, this is the mildest or moderate form of gum disease, and it only affects soft tissues.
More advanced forms of the disease infect bones and supporting structures of the teeth. This can eventually lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
What are the typical 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.
Bleeding gums are a clue that you may have gum disease, which is why you should schedule an appointment with your dentist if you notice that your gums are bleeding. 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 I take to prevent gum disease?
There is no cheat code to prevent oral health concerns such as gum disease. The only way that you can keep gum disease at bay is by a daily oral health care routine that involves brushing and flossing.
For example, while your genetics may determine that you are predisposed to certain conditions, as long as you brush and floss your teeth twice a day and visit your dentist as prescribed for regular professional cleanings and checkups, you can play a huge part in preventing these conditions from developing.
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 excessive development of bacteria in the mouth.
Most of the time, gum disease can be easily prevented with a good oral hygiene routine. While the issues listed above can increase your risk (and make prevention more challenging), whether it actually develops is dependent on whether or not your keep up with thorough dental care on a daily basis.