What is gum disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection of the soft tissues and bones that support the teeth. Gingivitis, which only affects soft tissues, is the mildest or moderate form of gum disease that your dentist will likely refer to.
More advanced forms of the disease infect bones and supporting structures of the teeth. This can eventually lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
What causes 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 are a clue that you may have gum disease, which is why you should schedule an appointment with your dentist if you notice that your gums are bleeding. Because your mouth contains millions of bacteria, great oral hygiene every day is a must - to disrupt the bacteria.
If unchecked bacteria is left for too long, your body will try to eliminate it by sending more blood to your gums. Aside from bleeding, swelling, soreness, and redness, the extra blood may also cause these symptoms. Your body believes it has gingivitis, an infection that won't go away until the cause of the infection is addressed.
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.
What can I do 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 above-listed factors alone can cause gum disease to develop and thrive. 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.
The most frequent cause of gum disease is the unchecked growth of bacteria and plaque in the mouth, regardless of whether a hormonal change is brought on by pregnancy, a medication you take, or whether you smoke frequently.
A regular oral hygiene regimen can usually easily ward off gum disease. While the aforementioned problems can raise your risk (and make prevention more difficult), whether it actually manifests depends on the choices you make each day regarding your oral hygiene routines.