Gum disease is caused by plaque buildup along and under the gum line. Plaque is a sticky substance that is made up of food particles, bacteria, and other debris. When it isn't removed through regular brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar over time. The bacteria in plaque can also infect your gums and cause inflammation.
Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Periodontal or gum disease usually begins when bacteria form plaque on the teeth. As the bacteria increase, it attacks the tissue below the gum line and causes inflammation. This inflammation can lead to an infection that can damage the gums and jawbone. If left untreated, gum disease will cause these supporting tissues to degrade over time. Eventually, the teeth become loose and may fall out on their own.
The signs of periodontitis include red, swollen, tender, bleeding gums. Patients may also notice that their teeth are loose due to bone loss. Other symptoms may include chronic bad breath, receding gums, sensitive teeth, and a change in bite. If you recognize any of these signs in yourself, it is important to seek treatment immediately to prevent the condition from worsening.
Studies demonstrate a strong connection between diabetes and periodontal disease. As the body's blood sugar levels rise, so does the glucose level in saliva. This can increase the growth of bacteria and cause a dry mouth, which can make a person more prone to developing cavities and gum disease from oral bacteria. One study found that individuals with uncontrolled diabetes had an increased risk of developing periodontitis compared to patients with controlled diabetes. Other studies have found that high blood glucose levels are associated with more severe cases of periodontitis.
Practicing good oral hygiene is the major reason for gum disease. Brush your teeth twice a day with ADA-approved toothpaste for two minutes each time. Flossing at least once a day also helps improve your oral health by removing plaque from between the teeth and below the gum line. For those with diabetes and/or heart disease, daily flossing is especially important to protect your gums from infection. In addition to regular care at home, visiting your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups is also important to maintaining a healthy smile.
If one of your parents has gum disease, you may be at a greater risk of contracting the disease. Your risk for disease may be affected by your family's medical history as well. A family history of heart disease, diabetes, or cancer can increase your risk of developing gum disease as well. Talk to your dentist about ways to protect your teeth and gums if you're at a higher risk due to hereditary factors. However, genetics is not the sole determining factor in whether you develop gum disease or not.
Gum disease can also be triggered by hormonal changes, specifically the hormone progesterone. Many women experience higher levels of progesterone during pregnancy and menopause. These elevated levels can cause gums to become inflamed and more likely to bleed.
If you smoke or use tobacco products of any kind, it's crucial that you take steps to stop. Tobacco use increases your risk of gum disease and oral cancer, and it also slows healing.
The first step to preventing gum disease is maintaining good oral hygiene habits at home. Brushing and flossing regularly will remove food particles and plaque from the teeth and below the gum line. Patients should also come in for checkups and cleanings every six months so their dentist can check for signs of periodontal disease and treat it before it gets worse.
If a patient does notice any symptoms associated with gum disease, such as bleeding while brushing or periodic bad breath, they should visit the dentist immediately for treatment.
Most cases of gum disease can be treated non-surgically with a deep cleaning called scaling and root planing. During this procedure, the dentist removes bacteria and plaque buildup above and below the gum line and smoothes out the tooth roots to prevent further damage. Antibiotics may be prescribed depending on the severity of the case.
At Kennedy Heights Dental Centre, we strive to provide our patients with a positive and relaxing experience. If you're ready to experience the best dental care, please contact us at 778.438.2084. or visit us at 11960 88 Ave, Delta, BC V4C 3C8.