When most people think about oral health, they consider their teeth and a sparkling smile. But your gums are an important part of your dental as well as overall health. Proper care of your gum tissue can prevent disease and help you keep those pearly whites for years to come! Here’s some information on proper care of gum tissue and facts about gum disease we think you should know.
Causes of Gum Disease
Just like your skin covers and protects your muscles and bones, your gums protect your teeth and the structures that hold them in place. When food particles and bacteria create plaque build up and invade the small areas between your teeth and gums, infections can form. Left untreated, these infections can penetrate gum tissue causing periodontal disease and may be painful, difficult to treat, and put your teeth at risk.
Three Stages of Gum Disease
- Gingivitis: this gum inflammation is the earliest form of gum disease. You may notice some bleeding during brushing and flossing. At this stage, damage can be reversed, since the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place are not yet affected.
- Periodontitis: at this stage, the supporting bone and fiber supporting your teeth are damaged. You may have pockets forming below the gum line that traps food and plaque. Proper dental treatment and home care can prevent further damage.
- Advanced Periodontitis – the final stage of gum disease. The fibers and bone supporting your teeth are destroyed, which causes teeth to shift or even loosen. This can affect your bite and if aggressive treatment can’t save them, you may lose teeth.
Early stages of gum disease can be reversed with proper brushing and cleaning to help keep plaque from building up. A professional cleaning is the only way to remove hardened plaque, or tarter, on teeth and below the gum line. If your condition is severe, root planing, a procedure to smooth irregularities on the roots of your teeth to reduce the potential for plaque build-up may be performed.
Know the Early Signs of Gum Disease
Because advanced gum disease is irreversible, prevention is key. If you notice any of these symptoms, please contact us for an evaluation:
- Red, puffy or swollen gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Receding gums that make your teeth look longer
- Gums that have separated or pulled away from teeth, creating a pocket
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Pus coming from gums
- Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
Although gum disease is most common in adults, it can occur at any age. It is important to teach your children that good brushing and flossing routines will protect their teeth as well as their gums. Gums are a barrier that help prevent inflammation that may also be a factor in other diseases. In fact, gum disease has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and pre-mature births. So don’t forget your gums when taking care of your health!