What is gum disease?
There are two major types of gum disease that affect humans – gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums. It is mostly caused by a bacterial infection. If it isn’t treated on time, it can develop into a serious complication known as periodontitis.
Gingivitis and periodontitis are primary causes of tooth loss in adults. Of course, there’s the risk of complications that may put both your wallet and your health at stake.
According to the Centres for Medicare & Medicaid Services, over $129 billion was spent on dental services in 2017.
What causes gum disease?
Here’s the thing with your gum – it attaches to the teeth at a lower point than the gum edges that we see. This attachment forms a small space known as a sulcus. Food particles and plaque get trapped in this space resulting in gum infection.
Plaque is a thin film of bacteria. It is constantly forming on the surface of your teeth. As it advances, it becomes harder and develops into tartar. An infection sets in when the plaque extends below the gum line.
If it is not treated, gingivitis can cause the separation of the gums from the teeth. This causes injury to the bone and soft tissue supporting the teeth. This leads to loosening and loss of stability of the teeth. If the infection is not arrested, you may lose your tooth or have dentists extract it.
Risk factors for gum disease
Common risk factors for gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis) include:
- Chewing or smoking tobacco
- A side effect of certain medications including steroids, oral contraceptives, calcium channel blockers, anticonvulsants, and chemotherapy.
- Broken fillings
- Crooked teeth
- Compromised immunity, as in HIV/AID
- Genetic factors
- Poorly filled dental appliances
What are the signs and symptoms of gum disease?
Do you know that most people with gum disease are not aware that they’ve got it? Yes! One can have gum disease without experiencing any symptoms. In many cases though, there will be symptoms to indicate that your gums are infected. So, watch out for the following signs:
- Pain when chewing
- Loose teeth
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Bleeding of the gums when you floss or brush your teeth
- Pus between your gums and teeth
- Malocclusion (a change in how your teeth fit when you bite).
- Sensitive teeth
- Foul-smelling breath that fails to go away even after you brush your teeth
How to prevent gum disease
The best way to prevent gum disease is by proper and consistent oral hygiene. This includes:
- A regular visit to the dentist
- Daily flossing of the teeth
- Brushing your teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste
Having a balanced diet daily will also help you to achieve good dental health and maintain it.