All dentists will remind you of the importance of keeping your gums clean and healthy, but how many of us really listen to this advice? It’s so easy to focus on keeping our teeth looking their brightest using temporary fixes, that oftentimes we forget about the health of our gums and how this ultimately affects the longevity of our teeth.
If you are experiencing swollen, bleeding, painful and even receding gums, don’t despair! There are ways to treat and even reverse these early signs of gum disease, so that you can keep your mouth healthy and your teeth strong.
Gum Disease Symptoms
First, it is best to identify if your gums are healthy or not. Healthy gums are pale pink in colour and are snug and firm around your teeth. Gum disease symptoms can include:
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Gums that are tender to touch
- Gums that bleed easily
- Purplish or bright red gums
- Gums that recede (pull away) from the teeth, giving the teeth a longer appearance than normal
- New spaces occurring between the teeth
- Pus formation between the gums and teeth
- Painful chewing
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
What Causes Gum Disease?
Most of us know that untreated plaque build-up is the main cause of gum disease. Yet, without the use of periodontal disease treatment, this can worsen into periodontitis or other more serious forms of gum disease.
Does an apple a day keep the dentist at bay? The sugars and starches in your food, along with the bacteria found normally in your mouth actually leads to this plaque formation! Brushing twice daily and flossing at least once every day can remove the plaque, but it constantly returns. That is why it is so important to keep up daily oral hygiene habits.
When left to fester, plaque hardens and transforms to tartar. If left over a longer period of time, it can do some serious damage to your teeth and gums! It can eventually cause pockets between the teeth and gums which fill with even more tartar, plaque and bacteria. Such a deep infection can lead to bone loss, paving the way to losing your teeth. Tartar cannot be removed with brushing. It can only be removed with the help of your periodontist in Etobicoke, using professional dental tools which specifically target and eliminate tartar build-up.
Types of Gum Disease
Gingivitis – The mildest among periodontal diseases. Gingivitis is characterized by inflammation and irritation on parts of the gum surrounding the base of the teeth called the gingival. With a good oral care regimen at home and professional periodontal disease treatment, it is possible to reverse gingivitis.
Chronic gum disease – Or periodontitis, is also common and generally affects adults but children can also be affected. Plaque build-up is the cause of this type of gum disease and is characterized by slow deterioration that may become worse with time. In the absence of gum disease treatment, the gums and bone suffer eventually causing teeth to fall out.
Aggressive gum disease – This type of gum disease appears in childhood/early adulthood but affects only a small percentage of people. This type of gum disease tends to rapidly progress into tooth and bone loss when left untreated.
Necrotizing gum disease – This type of gum disease is triggered by the absence of blood supply (necrosis) to the gums and teeth, leading to severe infection. Generally, this type of gum disease occurs in individuals with a compromised immune system like in the case of HIV infection, cancer treatments, malnutrition or similar issues.
Risk Factors for Gum Disease
You may be at a higher risk of developing gum disease if you:
- Have poor oral hygiene
- Smoke or chew tobacco
- Are older than 65
- Have hormonal changes resulting from menopause, pregnancy, etc.
- Suffer with substance abuse
- Have a history of gum disease in the family
- Struggle with obesity
- Have inadequate nutrition and vitamin deficiencies, such as vitamin C
- Are taking certain medications causing gum changes and dry mouth
- Have conditions that negatively impact immunity such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, etc.
- Suffer from other diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and diabetes
How to Prevent Gum Disease?
Not to worry though! Despite all of these factors, it is still so easy for all of us to keep gum disease from happening. Like any dental professional will tell you, a consistent and effective oral care regimen is the best way to prevent gum disease. It is most effective when starting these habits early in age and practicing consistently all throughout your life. Another must is regular visits to your periodontist in Etobicoke at the very least once a year to remove the build-up of plaque and tartar that is next to impossible for us to do alone.
If you believe you are affected or you are unsure about the health of your gums, call or send us a message at the Dental Health Clinic to reserve an appointment with us and we will gladly examine your case and discuss your options for treatment! It is not too late for you to have the smile you deserve right now.