Did you know that in the United States about 47.2% or 67 million Americans suffer from gum disease? According to Penn Dental Medicine, the average person age 20-39 is missing one tooth, the average 40-49-year-old is missing 3.5 teeth, and those over the age of 60 are missing 8 teeth, excluding wisdom teeth, and this is usually caused by gum disease.
What is Gum Disease?
Gingivitis and periodontitis are two forms of gum disease.
Gingivitis is the most common form of gum disease. It is an infection causing irritation, swelling, and redness of your gingiva, the part of the gums around the base of your teeth. It is important to treat gingivitis promptly before it leads to a more serious gum disease called periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.
Periodontitis is a gum disease in which the gums have a much more severe infection. Healthy gum tissue will fit like a cuff around each tooth, but inflamed gum tissue can pull away from teeth and form spaces called pockets. These pockets collect more plaque and bacteria. If the infected pockets get worse and are not treated, the bone and tissue that support the teeth will become irreparably damaged.
What are the signs of gum disease?
Make an appointment with your dentist when you notice any signs of gingivitis and periodontitis including:
- swollen, puffy, or tender gums
- dark red gums, gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- bad breath that doesn’t go away
- receding gums
- gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- pus between your teeth and gums
- loose or separating teeth
- a change in your bite
The quicker you are able to seek care from your dentist, the better the chances are for reversing any damage done to your gums.
What is the cause of gum disease?
One of the most common causes of gingivitis and periodontitis is poor oral hygiene that allows plaque to form on teeth, leading to inflammation around your gums. The plaque that forms on your teeth can quickly turn into tartar if it is not cleaned off every day with brushing. The tartar will harden under your gums and collect bacteria, this is what causes your gums to become inflamed and tender. A professional dental cleaning is required to remove the tartar from under your gums before it causes more damage to your gums and bone.
What can I do to prevent gum disease?
- With regular visits to your Needville dentists, your dentists can detect and treat gum disease in the early stages.
- Brushing your teeth a minimum of twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes each time can help remove the sticky plaque.
- Make sure you are cleaning between your teeth daily with floss or another interdental cleaner.
- Eat a healthy diet and do not use tobacco for good general and oral health.
Gum disease will not go away by itself. So preventing and treating the disease in its early stages is the best way to keep your smile healthy and avoid tooth loss. If you have gum disease, follow your dentist’s recommendations for treatment and follow-up care. We encourage you to call our Needville dental office if you have any questions.
American Dental Association. Periodontal Disease: Keep Your Gums Healthy. 2013. W107.