Our teeth are one of the most important parts of our body. Unfortunately, we tend to slack on our tooth brushing, and while it doesn’t always seem like a big deal, your teeth are not something you can afford to lose. One very common illness that many people have to contend with regularly is gum disease. Though it may sound scary and threatening, if treated properly and in a timely fashion, mild forms of gum disease can quickly be reversed. So, what exactly do you need to know about gum disease in order to protect your teeth? We’ve laid it all out for you below.

What causes gum disease?

Mild forms of gum disease, like gingivitis, are common in many adults. Our mouths are full of bacteria that leave a clear film, plaque, on our teeth throughout the day and night. We control this bacteria by brushing and flossing our teeth, but improper brushing and a lack of flossing can lead to gum disease. This is because the plaque is allowed to remain on your teeth and harden into tartar, which can cause inflammation in your gums, potentially leading to infection.

There are some other factors that can increase your risk of gum disease, like smoking, diabetes, hormonal changes, and certain medications. All of these can make you more susceptible to gum disease, but regardless of if these factors are applicable to you, it’s important to observe healthy oral hygiene.

What are the different types of gum disease?

Gingivitis: In its mildest form, gum disease is technically known as gingivitis. Generally, a person with gingivitis will feel little to no discomfort, but may experience red and swollen gums that bleed easily during flossing or toothbrushing. Gingivitis can be treated quickly just by improving oral hygiene habits, and scheduling regular cleanings with your dentist. If not taken care of, however, gingivitis can advance to a much more serious type of gum disease.

Periodontitis: If gingivitis is not properly treated, periodontitis is likely to follow. This is a much more serious form of gum disease that manifests itself in a few different ways. What happens is the plaque and tartar that has built up on the teeth over time causes your gums to swell and pull away from your teeth, leaving pockets that expose the roots of your teeth. These pockets can then fill with bacteria which your body tries to fight off, creating an infection. As your body naturally reacts to what it sees as a threat, it can start to break down the bones and nerves of your teeth, which could ultimately result in tooth loss.

What are symptoms of gum disease?

While most symptoms of gum disease are fairly obvious to your dentist, if you haven’t been in for a cleaning in a while, you may be questioning the health of your gums. Common symptoms are: bad breath that won’t go away, gums that bleed easily when you floss or brush, or are red and swollen, sensitive teeth, loose teeth, and painful chewing. If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms, you should promptly schedule an appointment or cleaning with your dentist.

What can be done for gum disease?

If you suspect you have gum disease, or if your dentist has warned you that you may have it, there are many forms of treatment. First and foremost, it’s important to make sure you are observing thorough and consistent oral hygiene habits. This means brushing your teeth well at least twice a day and flossing regularly. Next, you’ll want to talk to your dentist or periodontist about prescriptions that might be right for you. There are a number of prescription mouthwashes and antibiotics that can combat your gum disease, and alternatively, there are procedures your dentist can perform to help reverse your gum disease. Make sure you talk through all of your options with your trusted dentist, and feel free to call another qualified professional for a second opinion if you feel unsure.

While mild forms of gum disease are common and easily treatable, they can only be treated if you get advice from your dentist. If you have questions or feel you need to schedule an appointment, feel free to call us at (616) 842-0822 or request an appointment online today.