Gum Disease: What is it?
The bones and soft tissues of your mouth help to support your teeth and when you experience an infection of these structures it is referred to as gum disease. If you are suffering from gingivitis it is actually the earliest form of this disease and only affects the soft tissues.
More advanced forms of the disease infect bones and supporting structures of the teeth. This can result in the loss of teeth and other potentially serious complications.
The Causes of Gum Disease
A number of factors can contribute to your risk of developing gum disease, including:
- Plaque and bacteria buildup in the mouth.
- Hormonal shifts.
- Nutritional deficiencies.
- Some prescription medications.
- Uneven teeth.
Bleeding gums is a clear sign that you may be suffering from gingivitis which is early-stage gum disease. Because your mouth contains millions of bacteria, great oral hygiene every day is a must - to disrupt the bacteria.
If it is left too long, your body will try to rid itself of undisturbed bacteria by sending more blood to your gums. The excess blood may cause swelling, soreness, bleeding and redness. Your body thinks it has an infection - this is called gingivitis, and it won't heal until the source of the infection is eliminated.
Bacteria can be found in plaque, tartar or calculus, pockets beneath the gums (in cases of advanced gum disease), cavities, abscesses and chipped teeth. They may also hide in old dental work, as repairs to your teeth create an edge or margin that bacteria can adhere to.
How to Avoid Developing Gum Disease
If you are hoping to avoid gum disease the only surefire way of preventing it is with a complete oral hygiene routine including brushing, flossing and routine professional dental care.
None of the above-listed factors alone can cause gum disease to develop and thrive. If you maintain a rigorous and thorough oral hygiene routine, it will be very difficult for gum disease to start to take hold.
For example, while you may be prone to plaque buildup (perhaps due to genetics), as long as you brush and floss your teeth twice a day and visit your dentist as prescribed for regular professional cleanings and checkups, chances are that gum disease will not be able to fully develop.
Whether a pregnancy causes a hormonal shift, you take prescription medication or are a regular smoker, the most common cause of gum disease is the unimpeded development of bacteria and plaque in the mouth.
Most of the time, gum disease can be easily prevented with a good oral hygiene routine. While the issues listed above can increase your risk (and make prevention more challenging), whether it actually develops comes down to the decisions you make every day about your oral health practices.