One of the most common oral health issues is gum (periodontal) disease. It’s also a major cause of tooth loss in adults.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that gum disease—from mild cases of gingivitis to the more severe form known as periodontitis—affects almost half of adults over age 30 and over 70% of adults 65 years of age and older in the U.S. Gum disease is common but largely preventable.
Gum disease occurs when dental plaque is not removed by brushing your teeth daily. Dental plaque is a sticky substance made from leftover food particles and saliva that grows on surfaces within the mouth. Along with their toxins, bacteria in dental plaque break down gum tissues.
Gingivitis results when your body fires back with an inflammatory response, resulting in red, swollen gums.
Advanced gum disease (periodontitis) infects the tissues that support the teeth. As the tissue is attacked and the infection worsens, tooth loss can result.
Good oral hygiene can prevent gum disease. Follow these steps to maintain healthy teeth and gums:
If you develop advanced periodontitis, the bone and supporting tissues around your teeth are affected. Your gums and teeth may need to be treated surgically or removed.
If you notice any of the following warning signs of gum disease, contact your dentist:
You can have gum disease and not know it. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to other serious medical conditions, including diabetes and heart disease, along with premature delivery and low birth weight babies.
Gum disease can also cause your gums to recede, which exposes the roots of your teeth. Genetics, brushing too hard, hormone levels (during puberty, pregnancy or menopause), using tobacco products, grinding or clenching your teeth, crooked teeth or a misaligned bite are all factors that can play a role in receding gums.
Your dentist can treat mild gum recession by deep cleaning the affected area. Antibiotics also may be prescribed to get rid of any remaining harmful bacteria. If the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed, a procedure to regenerate lost bone and tissue may be recommended.
Fortunately, with good oral hygiene, you can prevent gum disease:
If you develop advanced gum disease, the bone and supporting tissues around your teeth are affected. Your gums and teeth may need to be treated surgically or removed.
To keep gum disease and other oral issues at bay, it’s important to schedule a dental checkup at least twice a year. If you don’t have a dentist, you can find one at floridabluedental.com/find-a-dentist.