When most patients think about their oral health, they tend to focus on the health of their teeth. However, your gums are just as important. In fact, they are the foundation of your smile! This means that we all need to take steps to keep our gums healthy. Without proper care and attention, you can suffer from periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease.
While gum disease is a common issue, many patients may not know the signs or effects of this gum concern. With the right oral hygiene routine, you can side-step these effects. Yet, we have tools to help you treat periodontal disease if it develops.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Gum disease is a condition or infection that affects the tissues that surround your teeth. This includes the gums and the bone supporting your teeth. It typically starts subtly, with the buildup of plaque along the gum line. If you don’t properly remove plaque through regular brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar. This will become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
As these bacteria multiply, they can lead to inflammation of the gums. This can cause redness, swelling, and sometimes bleeding. You may notice these signs during your brushing routine or when you eat. This initial stage is known as gingivitis. The good news is that, at this point, you can reverse this damage with proper oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings.
Without treatment, gingivitis can progress to the more advanced stage–periodontitis. When the inflammation becomes more pronounced, pockets may form between the gums and teeth. As a result, this can provide a cozy home for bacteria to thrive. When the infection progresses, it can start to break down the bone and tissue supporting your teeth. Unfortunately, this can lead to tooth loss.
Why Does It Develop?
There are many different factors that can lead to you developing periodontal disease.
Poor Oral Hygiene: Not brushing and flossing can allow plaque to thrive. This can increase the risk of gum inflammation.
Tobacco Use: Smoking or chewing tobacco not only stains your teeth, but it can weaken your immune system. This can make it easier for gum disease to take hold. Furthermore, it can make it harder for your body to fight off gum disease.
Genetics: Some people may be more genetically predisposed to gum disease. This means that your daily oral health care routine is vital.
Medical Conditions: Health conditions like diabetes or autoimmune disorders can compromise gum health.
Poor Nutrition: A diet lacking essential nutrients can weaken your immune system. This can reduce your body’s ability to fend off infections.