Many of us have heard that taking care of our oral hygiene will help to prevent gum disease, and yet the truth is, so few people truly know what gum disease is, or may even be living with it without knowing! It’s always best to arm yourself with the facts.
What it’s not
Just the term “gum disease” sounds awful, and while it isn’t pleasant, there are many misconceptions. When hearing about gum disease, you may have mental images of rotting gums or gums that are covered with blisters or wounds. This, however, is not the kind of “gum disease” your dentist and oral hygienist are speaking about. The reality of gum disease is a little different to what you may have been led to believe.
Gum disease in reality
Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease and is used to describe the inflammation of your gums. Gum disease comes in the form of Gingivitis and Periodontitis.
Gingivitis: This is a common and mild form of gum disease that causes irritation, redness and swelling of your gingiva – the part of your gum around the base of your teeth. It can be caused by dry mouth, poor oral hygiene and smoking.
The symptoms present themselves as follows:
- Swollen or puffy gums
- Dusky red or dark red gums
- Gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss
- Foul breath
- Receding gums
- Tender gums
If you experience the following symptoms, it is important to notify your dentist in order to treat the problem. If left untreated for an extended period of time, it can progress to gum disease that spreads to underlying tissue and bone and can result in a much more compromising condition that can lead to tooth loss.
Periodontitis: Periodontitis is a more severe type of gum disease. This condition is caused by bacteria that have been left to accumulate on your teeth and gums. As periodontitis progresses, it poses a risk to your bones which could lead to tooth loss. However, if manage to catch it in time, the damage can be stopped.
As it periodontitis progresses, your gums will begin to recede, creating small pockets between your gums and teeth. Bacteria begins to build up in these pockets which starts to wreak havoc on your gums and teeth. If left untreated your bones will be negatively impacted and your teeth will loosen as they lose bone support.
Fighting gum disease
Fighting gum disease is easy! It is simply a matter of keeping up a good oral hygiene routine and visiting your dentist regularly.
Oral hygiene: Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time with fluoride toothpaste is the number 1 defence against gum disease. Flossing once a day as a part of this routine is an important step in keeping those gums healthy.
Your dentist: Dentists are trained to spot gum disease in the early stages. Visiting your dentist regularly, i.e. once every six months will ensure that if there are any concerns surrounding your gum health, they can be nipped in the bud.
Gums can be kept healthy with just a little effort on your part. Follow these three steps: Brush, Floss and Visit the Dentist!