What is Gum Disease?
Gum Disease, also known as Periodontitis, is when gum inflammation, Gingivitis, leads to gum shrinkage and loosening of the teeth. Do note, however, that gum inflammation (Gingivitis) does not always progress on to become gum disease.
What Causes Gum Disease?
The primary cause of gum disease is plague, the invisible lining of bacteria that coats your teeth. Plague will cause your body to launch an immune response. This response, which is your body's way of fighting the bacteria, will often lead to gum inflammation (Gingivitis). It will also start to break down the bone and connective tissue which holds your teeth in place. If this response continues over long periods of time, it will keep destroying the bone and gum tissue. Your teeth will no longer be anchored in place, they will become loose, which will eventually result in tooth lose.
Other factors which contribute to gum disease include:
- Hormonal changes, which include fluctuations in hormones during Pregnancy, Puberty, Menopause, and monthly menstruation. This can cause the gums to become more sensitive, making it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- Illnesses can affect the condition of your gums. This mostly refers to illnesses like cancer and HIV which affects your immune system. Diabetes, which affects the body's ability to use blood sugar, can also lead to a higher risk of developing infections or cavities.
- Certain medications reduce the flow of saliva, and saliva has a protective effect on your teeth and gums.
- Genetics contributes to how likely it is you will develop Gingivitis
- Poor oral hygiene from inadequate brushing and flossing of your teeth
What are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?
Gum disease can often progress with little pain and obvious symptoms, sometimes even in its late stages. However, even subtle signs are helpful in detecting if you have gum disease, these are some of the signs to look out for:
- Gums that bleed during brushing or after brushing
- red, swollen, or tender gums
- gum recession
- a persistent bad breath or taste in mouth
- loose teeth or shifting teeth
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?
Maintaining good oral hygiene is the key when it comes to preventing gum disease. Make sure to brush and floss your teeth adequately. This includes brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day and flossing at least once a day.
Using a mouthwash can also help to reduce the risk of gum disease by further removing any plague that may have been missed when brushing and flossing.
If you have any personal risk factors, it's important to be aware of them and to speak to your dentist about it.