Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, can happen to anyone. Fortunately, it is a preventable illness. Proper oral care can keep your teeth and gums healthy and help you avoid gum disease, as well as other oral health problems.
According to Web MD, gum disease begins with bacteria in your mouth. Proper brushing and flossing eliminates these harmful bacteria before they can build up and cause problems. However, if the bacteria are allowed to build up, they will begin mixing with food particles and form plaque, which is a sticky film that covers the teeth.
Plaque leads to gingivitis, which is characterized by gum irritation and bleeding. Over time, the plaque hardens into tartar, a yellow scale that covers the teeth, as well as severe gum inflammation. At this stage, a dental professional needs to remove the tartar and instruct the patient about proper oral care to prevent the problem from progressing to periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a severe medical condition that can lead to severe infection and even the loss of teeth. This condition is characterized by receding gums that pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets where harmful bacteria can enter. Over time, the connective tissues that hold the teeth in place become eroded, and teeth may begin to fall out.
In addition to poor oral hygiene, some people are more prone to gum disease. People with diabetes are more likely to get gum disease, as are smokers, people who clench or grind their teeth, and people with poor nutritional habits. However, being more prone to gum disease does not mean you will contract it. Proper oral hygiene can prevent gum disease, even if you have one or more risk factors for it.
To prevent gum disease, it is essential to brush your teeth at least twice a day or after every meal, and to floss at least once each day. Contact a dentist as soon as possible if you notice signs of gum disease, such as bleeding gums, loose or shifting teeth, receding gums, or dentures or dental devices that do not fit as well as they used to. The sooner you receive periodontal treatments, the less likely you are to experience a severe infection or lose teeth.
Gum disease is preventable. Taking proper care of your teeth and gums not only makes your smile look and feel better, but it has significant positive effects on your overall health as well.