Our dentists often see adult patients with gum disease, which typically develops as a result of poor oral hygiene. Today our dentists at Klondyke Dental Centre in Whitehorse talk to you about the ways poor oral hygiene habits increase your risk for gum disease, and the steps you should take to avoid it.
What's gum disease?
Gum disease (which can also be called periodontal disease) infects the bone and soft tissues that support your teeth. When your dentist talks about gingivitis, they are talking about gum disease in its mildest or more moderate forms. In the early stages of gum disease, it's still only infecting the soft tissues.
When gum disease becomes more advanced it starts to infect the bones and supporting structures of a person's teeth, which can eventually lead to tooth loss (if left untreated).
The 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.
If your gums are bleeding it could be a sign that you might have gum disease, so you should call your dentist immediately if you notice bleeding in your gums. Since your mouth holds millions of bacteria, keeping up excellent oral hygiene every day is essential in order to disrupt the bacteria.
If this condition is left untreated for too long, your body will attempt to get rid of the undisturbed bacteria itself by sending additional blood to your gums. The extra blood can lead to swelling, soreness, bleeding, and redness. Your body will think it has an infection - this is known as gingivitis, and it won't go away until the source of 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 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.
An example could be if you are prone to plaque buildup (perhaps due to genetics), as long as you continue brushing and flossing your teeth two times a day and keep visiting your dentist as prescribed for regular checkups and professional cleanings, the odds of gum disease fully developing is very minimal.
Whether a pregnancy causes a hormonal shift, you take prescription medications or are a regular smoker, the most common cause of gum disease is the unimpeded development of plaque and bacteria in your mouth.
Most of the time, gum disease can be easily prevented with a good oral hygiene routine. While the issues listed above can increase your risk (and make prevention more challenging), whether it actually develops comes down to the decisions you make every day about your oral health practices.