Gum disease can range from mild to severe. Mild gum disease is called gingivitis. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that surround your teeth, and is caused by a buildup of plaque. In its early stages, symptoms may include:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Bad breath
This might sound scary, but at this stage the disease is still reversible. Eliminating the infection can be as easy as trip to the dentist office for a professional cleaning, as well as daily brushing and flossing. Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. This is why it’s important to schedule regular dental checkups in addition to maintaining a good dental routine of brushing and flossing.
If left treated, gingivitis may lead to a more serious condition called periodontitis. Periodontitis can do lasting damage to the gums, bones and other structures that support the teeth. At this stage, the disease progresses to the supporting bone, pockets can form where more bacteria can collect. Any calculus that builds up then traps plaque in these pockets.At more advanced stages, the disease may require complex treatment to prevent tooth loss. In the worst case, teeth can become loose and need to be removed by the dentist.
Diseases such as diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV infections, and AIDS can lower the body’s resistance to infection. This can place a person at greater risk for more severe forms of periodontal diseases. Smoking may also increase your risk of developing periodontal disease, any treatment may be less successful if you continue to smoke
How do I know if I have periodontal disease?
Several warning signs can signal a problem. If you notice any of the following, see your dentist:
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
- Pus between the teeth and gums
- Loose or separating teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures.
How to prevent periodontal disease?
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Clean between your teeth with floss or another interdental cleaner once every day
- See your dentist for an examination and a professional cleaning regularly
- Show your dentist or dental hygienist how you brush and clean between your teeth and ask if you can make any improvements
- If you smoke or chew tobacco, stop. Tobacco use increases the risk of gum disease.