Top Cause of Gum Disease

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gum diseaseAffecting millions of Americans, gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a dangerous and common infection. In fact, 85 percent of United States adults have some form of the disease. It is one of the most prevalent diseases affecting Americans, but remains for the most part largely unknown. Early symptoms such as puffy gums are largely shrugged off. From the early stage of gingivitis to the more advanced, dangerous stages of periodontitis, it’s important to understand the consequences and treatment options.

So, then, what are the more common causes of gum disease, and what treatments and prevention are available to address the risk? The odds are good that you may have some of the symptoms, so knowing as much about gum disease as possible is important in understanding your oral health.

What is gum disease?

Plaque is generally recognized as the main culprit in the development of gum disease. This is why, along with brushing, dentists recommend flossing as part of your regular oral hygiene routine. Brushing and flossing get rid of the dangerous plaque build-up that starts the inflammation of the gums, and removes food that gets trapped in the crevices and cracks.

Gum disease is an infection of the bone and tissues that surround and support your teeth. It causes redness, swelling and bleeding, and over time weakens the support for your teeth. As mentioned above, plaque and poor dental hygiene are the leading cause, but risky behaviors should be avoided as well. Smoking and using other forms of tobacco greatly increase your risk of contracting gum disease.

It can also be caused by poor or improperly fitting dental work. If crowns or seals crack or become otherwise ineffective, germs and bacteria can find a place to grow and flourish, leading to the development of gum disease.

What are the different kinds?

The two stages of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gingivitis

Gum disease starts with the less severe gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums caused by the build-up of plaque. Plaque is the film that develops on your teeth, which must be removed through regular flossing and brushing. It’s known as biofilm, a sticky combination of bacteria and germs. Left in place, it hardens to form calculus, more commonly known as tartar.

Much like the lime deposits you’ll find on a shower drain, hardened tartar is difficult to remove. It will continue to grow and cause infections in your gums, often causing bleeding and redness.

Periodontitis

If left untreated, gingivitis will progress to periodontitis, a far more severe form of gum disease. In this stage, the tartar deposits on the surface of the teeth expand, growing down below the gum line. This is the dangerous stage, since the development of tartar below the gum line separates the gums from the teeth, weakening their support and forming periodontal pockets.

It causes bleeding, swelling, pain while chewing, tooth looseness, and teeth misalignment. In some cases sores may develop, as well as sensitive teeth and persistent bad breath. In its most extreme form, periodontitis causes a discharge of puss from the gums.

The pockets and infection will continue to deepen, destroying the jawbone until eventually your teeth fall out. The good news is that this can be avoided with treatment!

gum diseaseHow can I avoid getting gum disease?

The single most effective way to avoid getting gum disease is to establish a regular oral health routine. This includes regular brushing, flossing and semi-annual visits to your dentist. Your dentist and dental hygienist are always available to discuss with you the best brushing and flossing techniques for you, and help you form a good plan for an oral hygiene regimen.

Your semi-annual cleaning is critical, since dental hygienists are trained to look for signs of trouble and have the tools necessary to remove plaque, tartar and other germs and bacteria from the cracks and crevices in your teeth. They can reach the places in your mouth that even the most effective oral hygiene routine can miss.

How do I know if I have gum disease?

Most people who have gum disease have absolutely no idea that they are infected. Since prevention and early treatment are key, it’s important to know some of the symptoms to look out for:

Red or puffy gums
Bleeding during brushing and flossing
Loose teeth
Regular or persistent bad breath
Frequent bad taste in your mouth

The good news is that finding and treating gum disease at an early stage is highly effective in getting you back to good oral health.

If you think that you have gum disease, contact us at Lockhart Dentistry as soon as you can. You can get on a regular plan of treatment and we can help you establish a good oral hygiene routine that will get you back to a great smile in no time. Give us a call today at (317) 449-8050.

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