Gum Disease: What It Really Is
Gum disease (the technical term is periodontal disease) is an infection of the bone and soft tissues that support your teeth. If you've heard your dentists mention gingivitis, they're referring to the mildest form of gum disease that only affects the soft tissue.
More advanced forms of the disease infect bones and supporting structures of the teeth. This can eventually lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
The Potential Causes of Gum Disease
A number of factors can contribute to your risk of developing gum disease, including plaque and bacteria buildup in the mouth, hormonal shifts, smoking, nutritional deficiencies, some prescription medications, uneven teeth and even genetics.
Bleeding gums can be a strong indicator that you might have gum disease which is why you should make an appointment with your dentist at the earliest signs of bleeding gums. Because your mouth contains millions of bacteria, great oral hygiene every day is a must - to disrupt the bacteria.
If it is left too long, your body will try to rid itself of undisturbed bacteria by sending more blood to your gums. The excess blood may cause swelling, soreness, bleeding and redness. Your body thinks it has an infection - this is called gingivitis, and it won't heal until the source of the infection is eliminated.
Bacteria can be found in plaque, tartar or calculus, pockets beneath the gums (in cases of advanced gum disease), cavities, abscesses and chipped teeth. They may also hide in old dental work, as repairs to your teeth create an edge or margin that bacteria can adhere to.
How You Might Be Able To Avoid Gum Disease
There are no real 'tips and tricks' when it comes to avoiding gum disease. The best way to avoid developing gum disease is to maintain good oral hygiene habits, plain and simple.
None of the factors listed in this post can cause gum disease to develop and thrive on its own. If you maintain a rigorous and thorough oral hygiene routine, it will be very difficult for gum disease to start to take hold.
For example, while you may be prone to plaque buildup (perhaps due to genetics), as long as you brush and floss your teeth twice a day and visit your dentist as prescribed for regular professional cleanings and checkups, chances are that gum disease will not be able to fully develop.
Whether a pregnancy causes a hormonal shift, you take prescription medication or you smoke regularly, the most common cause of gum disease is the unimpeded development of bacteria and plaque in the mouth.
In many cases, gum disease is easily prevented with the help of a good oral hygiene routine. While the above issues can increase your risk, the reality is, it will all come down to your decisions regarding your oral hygiene practices.