You know that your dentist is focused on keeping your teeth strong, healthy and looking great. Did you know that your gums are also a big priority? Healthy gums are one of the building blocks of a healthy smile, and gum disease is something we take very seriously. Gum disease ranges from not so bad and easy to reverse to really bad and dangerous to overall health. As with most dental issues, it’s always best to catch it early. And remember, if you find yourself with symptoms, don’t be embarrassed: see your dentist and get help addressing the problem.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a bacterial infection that happens when plaque gets below the gumline. It’s easy to treat when caught early but can cause serious problems, including tooth loss, when left untreated. The mildest form of gum disease is called gingivitis. It’s usually caused by not taking good care of your teeth and can be reversed by putting a good brushing and flossing routine in place. If gingivitis goes untreated, it can turn into the more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Periodontitis happens when plaque spreads below the gumline and bacteria cause the gums to separate from the teeth, leading to pockets between the tooth and gum. As the infection gets worse, it can eventually lead to bone and tissue loss and loose teeth that may need to be removed.
What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?
Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen or bleeding gums, but you may not experience a lot of discomfort at this stage. As gum disease progresses into periodontitis, gums may start to recede as the infection becomes worse. Teeth may eventually become loose as tissue and bone are damaged by toxins created in the mouth. The best practice is to see your dentist as soon as you experience any symptoms– even if you’re not feeling much pain– so that you can catch gum disease early.
What Are Risk Factors for Gum Disease
Gum disease often starts with poor dental hygiene, and failure to brush and floss can lead to the buildup of plaque and harmful bacteria. There are also some important risk factors to consider beyond oral hygiene.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, some of the main risk factors for gum disease include:
- Poor nutrition
- Diabetes and other underlying conditions
- Genetic predisposition
- Pregnancy and other hormonal changes
- Substance abuse
- Certain medications
However, even if you don’t have any of these risk factors, you can still get gum disease, so be sure to see your dentist if you notice any of the symptoms.
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease
The best way to fight gum disease is to take basic preventive measures. Here are some of the most important elements of prevention:
- Adopt good oral hygiene habits at home, including regular brushing, flossing and using a mouthwash approved by the ADA
- Get regular dental check-ups, and talk with your dentist about gum care. Be sure to share your health history with your dentist, including new medical diagnoses and medications
- Avoid smoking and tobacco use, including vaping
- Pay attention to your diet and include plenty of vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables. These help to protect your teeth and gums from infection
- How Does My Dentist Check for Gum Disease?
If you are over 30, talk to your dentist about including a gum disease screening with your regular check-up. Your dentist will use a special tool called a periodontal probe to check the pockets between the tooth and the gum right at the gumline. If these pockets get too large, you have an increased chance of bacteria accumulating and causing gum disease. Your dentist will also check for any recession of the gums from the tooth and for teeth that may be getting loose. It’s a quick and easy process and can help detect early warning signs.
Gum Care at Greenhill Family Dental Care
At Greenhill Family Dental Care, we know how that healthy gums are the foundation of healthy teeth. We believe that preventing gum disease through good habits and regular office visits is the best line of defense. However, if you find yourself with symptoms of gum disease, we are a judgment-free zone. Gum disease can be uncomfortable and cause a little apprehension, but ignoring the problem makes things worse. Our focus is on identifying the problem and getting you healthy and on track for great oral health.
Contact us to find out how we can help you.