Periodontal (gum) diseases include both gingivitis and periodontitis. They are serious infections that if left untreated can lead to tooth loss and other health problems. The main cause of periodontal disease is poor dental hygiene and a bacterial infection which affects the gums and bone which support the teeth.
The progression of gum disease is usually slow and goes largely unnoticed for months, sometimes even years. Sadly, by the time most patients become aware that something is wrong (i.e. pain, swelling, loose teeth) the infection has progressed to an advanced stage whereby treatment options are limited.
Often referred to as “dental disease,” all gum disease and tooth decay share a bacterial origin, yet they are two separate diseases. You can have one, or both. Gum disease is usually known as gingivitis, a milder form of the disease which precedes periodontal disease — and its chronic stage, periodontitis.
What To Look For
Know the potential signs and symptoms of progressive, periodontal disease:
- bleeding gums after brushing/flossing
- red, tender, and/or swollen gums
- teeth that appear to be getting longer
- an uneven gum line
- exposed tooth roots
- sensitive to hot/cold temperatures
- changes to how your dentures fit
- noticeable looseness of teeth
- spaces appearing between teeth
- unpleasant taste and/or bad breath
- dry and/or burning sensation in mouth
Warning Signs of Dental (Gum) Disease
If you have been experiencing one or more symptoms of periodontal disease, see your dentist now. The effect gum disease has on your overall health is proportionate to the duration and extent of the infection. Prompt periodontal care is essential; moderate to advanced gum disease will expose your body to harmful bacteria 24 hours a day — for as long as the infection is present.
Stress caused by bacterial infection places a pronounced strain on the immune system and will significantly reduce your body’s innate capacity to fight off other diseases and infections — so it’s important you get help early.
Prevent Gum Disease For Better Oral Health
Everyone wants to have healthy teeth and an attractive smile. To ensure your best dental health and especially to avoid problems with gum disease, adopt a daily habit of practicing good oral hygiene. Prevention includes rigorous brushing after meals, daily flossing to remove plaque, as well as visiting your dentist every six months for routine check-ups and professional cleanings.
Flossing, Your Best Defense
The benefits of flossing cannot be overemphasized for protecting you against gum disease. Though to be truly effective, you must floss every day since plaque builds up quickly on your teeth and must be removed. Never get in a hurry when flossing; it’s important that you carefully position the floss below the gum line between each tooth, to be sure any plaque accumulation is reached. Prevention is your best defense against gum disease and proper attention to flossing will help retard the growth of bacteria which leads to infection and periodontal disease — your reward is a lifetime of healthy, beautiful teeth.