Gum disease is a type of bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone tissue which keeps your teeth in place. The lack of improper oral care can eventually lead to gum disease, which can range from a simple gum inflammation to a more severe disease that results in the extreme damage of the soft tissue and bone that supports the teeth. If left untreated, it can become very serious, causing the teeth to become loose and may fall out.
There are hundreds of types of bacteria living inside your mouth. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky layer of germs that forms naturally on the teeth and gums. Brushing and flossing can help remove the plaque. However, a plaque that is not removed can harden and form tartar that brushing alone can’t remove. Only professional cleaning by a dental hygienist or orthodontist can remove the tartar buildup. Remember that the condition of your gums depend greatly on how well you take care of your teeth and gums every day.
How to know if I have gum disease?
There are various symptoms that can warn you of the presence of gum disease. If you have any of the symptoms listed below, be sure to schedule a visit to your orthodontist as soon as possible. Your dentist will be able to decide whether you have signs of gum disease, to what degree it is now and what treatments are necessary.
Symptoms of gum disease include:
Bad breath that won’t go away
Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
Red or swollen gums
Tender or bleeding gums
3 Stages of Gum Disease
Stage 1: Gingivitis
This is the first stage of gum disease, which comes with the inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup at the gumline. One of the main reasons why gingivitis is so dangerous is because it is completely overlooked. If regular brushing and flossing don’t remove the plaque, it creates harmful toxins that can irritate the gum tissue, which causes gingivitis. A lot of patients with gingivitis may see signs of bad breath and gums that bleed while flossing. At this early stage of gum disease, the damage can be corrected, since the bone and gums that keep the teeth in place are not yet significantly affected. Fortunately, gingivitis is highly treatable, as long as you have good oral hygiene.
Stage 2: Periodontitis
If gingivitis has been left untreated, it can develop into a periodontal disease. Early periodontitis is usually accompanied by an inflammation of the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth, resulting in early bone loss. At this stage, the bone and fibers that support the teeth in place can cause major damage. Your gums may begin to form pockets below the gumline, which can trap food and cause plaque. Proper dental treatment and improved dental care can generally help prevent further damage from happening. Several treatments like scaling and root planing can be used to smoothen out the surfaces of the teeth and remove layers of built-up tartar.
Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis
Patients that have advanced periodontitis can struggle with offensive bad breath, severe pain while chewing, and a very bad taste in the mouth due to the infection. During the final stage of gum disease, the fibers and bone supporting the teeth are completely destroyed, which can cause the teeth to move or loosen. This can significantly affect your bite and, if dental treatments can’t save them, then teeth may have to be removed. Advanced periodontitis isn’t just a mere dental issue. It has also been tied to other serious health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, and even other forms of cancer.
Once someone develops signs of gum disease, it isn’t quite easy to control. Usually, there is a widespread infection of the gums that needs dental treatment. This may require several treatments either by a dentist or an expert who specializes in gum care.
Fortunately, there’s good news. Gum disease is usually preventable. Just take care of your teeth regularly and follow these tips.
Brush at least twice a day for at least 3 minutes each and floss regularly. If you’re not sure whether you’re flossing or brushing properly, your dentist or dental hygienist can show you the techniques that fit your particular needs.
Always brush with toothpaste that contains fluoride in it. Some dentists also recommend daily mouth rinses that also contains fluoride.
Use a toothbrush with soft, gentle bristles, as these are less likely to irritate or injure the gums. Also, be sure to replace your toothbrush at least after every 3 to 4 months because having an old toothbrush can potentially hurt your gums.
Eat a healthy diet. Avoid snacks and junk foods that are loaded with a lot of sugar that plaque-causing bacteria love to feast on.
Avoid smoking. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco can definitely cause mouth irritation and are very unhealthy for your teeth and gums.
Regular dental care is extremely important in keeping and maintaining your mouth healthy. Visit your dentist for a routine dental checkup and regular cleaning at least twice a year. Your dentist can remove the hardened plaque and tartar buildup.