Gum disease is one of the most prevalent dental issues people battle with. It is a slow oral disease that often does not have any noticeable symptoms until it reaches its more advanced stages. That is quite unfortunate, considering the fact that gum disease can be easily reversed early on. Improving your oral hygiene and getting your teeth cleaned by a dentist can stop the first stage (gingivitis) right in its tracks.
How gum disease occurs
Gum disease is caused by the same things that cause tooth decay: oral bacteria inside plaque and tartar. Plaque is a transparent film that covers teeth surfaces. It is made up of bacteria and nutrients they can convert into acids that damage teeth.
When plaque makes its way under the gum line, it irritates the soft tissues there. This leads to the person's body sending antibodies to the gums to combat the infection, which causes swelling of the gums and the disintegration of the structures that support teeth.
The signs and symptoms of gingivitis (the early stage) include:
- Tender gums
- Inflamed gums
- Reddish-looking gums
- Gums that are prone to bleeding when mildly stimulated
During the first stage of periodontal disease, the structures that support teeth are yet to be damaged, making it easy to reverse the condition. If left untreated, however, it will cause irreversible damage to the patient's supporting structures and create a great deal of pain and discomfort.
The most advanced stage of gum disease is called periodontitis. It can impact a patient's bite and require the extraction of teeth.
Symptoms of periodontitis include:
- Loose teeth
- Spaces forming between teeth
- Gums that bleed easily
- Swollen, tender, reddish gums
- Gums pulling away from teeth
Preventing gum disease
The good news is that periodontal disease is easy to prevent. Simple things that patients can do to keep gum disease at bay include:
1. Consistent oral hygiene
Flossing once a day and brushing twice a day goes a long way when it comes to fighting off gum disease. Both help get rid of plaque from teeth surfaces. They eliminate the cause of periodontal disease before it leads to any problems.
2. Biannual teeth cleanings
Tartar is removed from teeth surfaces during cleanings, and it is one of the major things that cause gum disease. Tartar is calcified plaque, so brushing and flossing cannot get it off teeth surfaces. A dentist uses a metal tool known as a scaler to scrape tartar off the patient's teeth gently.
Regular teeth cleanings coupled with good oral hygiene can be enough to reverse gingivitis.
3. Quit smoking
Smoking tobacco products weakens one's immune system, which makes it harder to fight off gum disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people who smoke are significantly more likely to develop gum disease.
Smoking also makes it more challenging for a patient's gums to recover if they have already been damaged by gum disease.
Stop gum disease in its tracks
Gum disease can lead to the loss of permanent teeth, but doing the things listed above provides you with protection. Stop by our New York to learn more or for gum disease treatment.
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