19 January 2023
main Resource Center
It’s a new year, and for many, that can mean a resolution to achieve and maintain better levels of health. While losing weight, regular exercise, and healthy eating are often a part of those goals, one area that’s nearly always overlooked is dental health. Incredibly, your dental health can say a lot about the health of the rest of your body. It’s important to know what symptoms and signs to look for so that you can continue to maintain a healthy smile. Gum disease is one of the serious oral diseases, but if it is caught early, its lasting effects can be prevented.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is the more common name for the technical term periodontitis. This oral disease presents as a serious infection. It works to damage the soft tissues in the mouth, and if no treatment is sought, teeth can loosen and even fall out. While this frequently happens as we age, it can also happen very prematurely if the signs of gum disease aren’t noticed or caught before any real damage has been done.
It’s vital to note that gingivitis frequently occurs before a person ends up with gum disease. Gingivitis is fairly common. However, it doesn’t always lead to gum disease, it is simply one of the precursors for the much more serious concern of periodontitis.
Gingivitis is, simply put, the inflammation of the gums. Many people over the course of their lives will end up with gingivitis, and because the symptoms are very mild, it’s easy to ignore and overlook. The beginning stage of gingivitis involves plaque formation and build-up. Over time, this can become severe enough, although it would still be fairly mild, to cause irritation to the gums. With enough of this irritation, the gums will bleed easily with basic, everyday toothbrushing.
Forgetting to brush and floss regularly can lead to a buildup of plaque that not only damages your teeth but also becomes tartar after 3 days without removal. Tartar is much harder and more difficult to remove than plaque, and it can also make getting your teeth completely clean very difficult. When this gets severe enough, the gums and bone will actually start pulling away from teeth and create blank spaces. These empty spaces can fill with bacteria and become severely infected, making for a number of even more serious issues.
Signs of Gum Disease
While gingivitis doesn’t always lead to gum disease, it’s an important first step to notice before anything gets out of hand. If you can notice gingivitis, it’s easy to prevent it from getting any worse or causing long-lasting and irreversible damage to tissue and bone. Some of the signs of gum disease include:
- Bad breath
- Changes in how teeth fit together when biting or mouth is closed
- Gums that easily bleed
- Gums that aren’t pink, but bright or dusky red, and even purple
- Loose teeth
- New blank spaces between teeth
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Puss between gums and teeth
- Receding gums that make teeth appear longer than normal
- Spitting out blood when brushing teeth
- Tender gums
While this isn’t a complete list of the symptoms of gum disease, these are some of the most common and the most noticeable indicators. When you have healthy gums, they’re not red or inflamed, but instead are pink and firm, and your teeth aren’t loose in your gums.
Causes of Gum Disease
Plaque and complications resulting from its buildup are the number one cause of gum disease. However, there are several other factors that may contribute to gum disease. These include:
- Smoking can make it more difficult for the mouth and gums to repair themselves.
- Forgetting to brush and floss your teeth regularly will contribute to the buildup of plaque.
- Hormonal changes such as puberty, menopause, and pregnancy can make your gums more sensitive and make it easier to develop gingivitis.
- Medications may inhibit certain healthy, natural bodily functions, such as the production of saliva. Saliva actually helps to protect your teeth from the buildup of food and bacteria, and medications can interfere with the production of saliva.
- Illnesses and diseases such as HIV, cancer, and diabetes impact the immune system. Consequently, they can also impact the overall health of your gums.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
The most important thing to keep in mind about gum disease is plaque buildup. As this is the major cause, good plaque control can prevent gum disease from worsening in nearly every case. The best way to do this is by having regular dental checkups and cleanings so that your teeth and gums can be rid of excess plaque buildup.
Brushing and flossing your teeth daily is the best prevention you can do in your own home. Your toothbrush should be replaced every three months so that you’re getting the best clean possible out of your brush. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is recommended, as it helps to break up and remove the plaque that collects after meals. Flossing helps to remove not only pesky food particles but also any plaque that has built up throughout the day. Additionally, rinsing your mouth with mouthwash can help to prevent gingivitis, plaque, and bad breath. Antibacterial rinses in particular can help remove the bacteria that becomes plaque over time.
When to See a Dentist
If you haven’t seen your dentist in 6 months, now is the time. A proper, professional dental cleaning removes all that tartar and extra plaque so that your mouth can stay healthy. If you’re unsure, you can ask about proper cleaning procedures. Rather than lingering in pain, or spitting out blood every time you brush, talking to a dentist can help clear up many of these issues.
If you’re unsure who you can turn to for dental care help, Emergency Dental Service is here for you with a local dentist selection that you can trust. Don’t risk your oral health. Find a dentist near you today to schedule your appointment within 24 hours, or call 1-888-350-1340 today.