Keeping Track Of Your Gum Health – And Preventing Gum Disease
Roughly 47% of adults over the age of 30 suffer from severe gum disease. Receiving regular preventive care is crucial to keeping your teeth and gums healthy. In order to care for your oral health efficiently, it’s important to know what gum disease looks like, and what you can do to prevent it. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions surrounding gum disease.
What is Gum Disease?
According to the Mayo Clinic, gum disease is an infection of the gums that can damage both soft and bone tissue in your mouth. Ranging from gingivitis (early stage) to periodontitis (advanced stage), gum disease can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. The infection is most commonly the result of poor oral hygiene and therefore can be preventable.
What are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?
Healthy gums should always be firm and of a pale pink color. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), signs that you may have gum disease include:
- gums that are red, swollen and bleed easily
- gums that seem to have pulled away (recede) from the teeth
- constant bad breath
- pus between your teeth and gums
- teeth that seem to be loose or moving away from one another
- a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
What Causes Gum Disease?
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that constantly builds up on your teeth throughout the day. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day helps to remove plaque from your teeth. However, if left on the teeth, plaque can harden into tartar, also known as calculus, which becomes much more difficult to remove (Mayo Clinic). Your professional dentist or dental hygienist can properly remove the buildup up tartar.
As tartar builds up on the teeth, it can cause irritation and inflammation of the gum line, known as gingivitis. If left untreated, the continued buildup of tartar will make the gums pull away from the teeth (ADA), creating pockets where more plaque, tartar and bacteria can grow. This bacteria creates an infection which in turn can lead to the loss of bone and tissue and the potential loss of teeth (Mayo Clinic).
There are additional risk factors listed by the Mayo Clinic that can increase the likelihood of developing gum disease, including:
- Poor oral health habits
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Older age
- Substance use
- Inadequate nutrition, including vitamin C deficiency
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?
Gum disease can be prevented with good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits. This includes brushing your teeth for 2 minutes at least twice a day, flossing once a day and visiting your dentist every 6-12 months.
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