Good oral hygiene is a necessary part of keeping our smiles both healthy and looking great. However, even with diligent brushing and flossing, plaque can form, and when left untreated can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. While preventable, gum disease is nothing to shrug off and can present itself two different ways. Gingivitis is a mild and easily treatable form of gum disease that occurs when bacterial growth is left unchecked. When gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress into periodontitis. Periodontitis involves bacteria and plaque spreading beneath the gum line forming pockets between the inner layer of the gum and bone. Gum disease results when these pockets become infected and begin to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold your teeth in place. When this happens, tooth loss can follow.
Causes of Gum Disease
While built-up plaque is the primary cause of gum disease, several other factors can contribute to the formation and progression of periodontitis. These factors include hormonal changes (for women this includes during the times of pregnancy, menopause, and menstrual cycles), illnesses such as diabetes and cancer, use of medications that limit saliva flow, smoking, poor oral hygiene, or, unfortunately, just your genetics.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
While some symptoms of gum disease don’t show until the disease has already progressed, one common trait of gingivitis is bleeding gums either during or after brushing your teeth. Other warning signs to keep an eye out for are swollen or tender gums, persistent bad breath, receding gums, changes in your bite, and ultimately, loose or shifting teeth.
Keep Your Gums Healthy
The best way to prevent any stage of gum disease is through proper oral hygiene and maintenance. As simple as it sounds, consistent brushing and flossing remove much of the food particles and bacteria that cause plaque. Using mouthwash can also reduce bacteria. Additional benefits can come from not smoking, eating a well-balanced diet, and reducing your stress levels. Finally, bi-yearly professional cleanings are recommended to target everything that personal brushing and flossing may have left behind.
Good oral health contributes to your overall health, and that is something that everyone can desire.