Periodontal (Gum) Disease: What exactly is it?
If you have an infection of the bone and soft tissues that support the teeth this is also known as periodontal or gum disease. The beginning form of gum disease is known as gingivitis and typically only affects the soft tissues of your mouth.
More advanced forms of the disease infect bones and supporting structures of the teeth. Once the periodontal disease has become advanced you risk both permanent bone and tooth loss.
What are the common 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.
If you notice that your gums are bleeding when you brush your teeth then you should request an appointment with your dentist as this can indicate gum disease. Because your mouth contains millions of bacteria, great oral hygiene every day is a must - to disrupt the bacteria.
Your body will take note of the infection and send extra blood to the area to try to clear the bacteria. This is the cause of gingivitis. 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.
Is there anything you can do to prevent gum disease?
The best possible option for preventing gum disease is to ensure daily at-home oral hygiene and routine professional oral care.
None of the above-listed factors alone can cause gum disease to develop and thrive. If you maintain a rigorous and thorough oral hygiene routine, it will be very difficult for gum disease to start to take hold.
For example, while you may be prone to plaque buildup (perhaps due to genetics), as long as you brush and floss your teeth twice a day and visit your dentist as prescribed for regular professional cleanings and checkups, chances are that gum disease will not be able to fully develop.
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 unimpeded development of bacteria and plaque 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 comes down to the decisions you make every day about your oral health practices.