Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is marked by gums that are susceptible to bleeding and irritation. There are two kinds of gum disease and these include gingivitis and periodontitis. It is important to know what to look for in both so that you can get yourself treated at a dentist right away.
Gingivitis is milder than periodontitis and it is characterized by inflammation of the gingiva or gums. This can become a more serious problem if left untreated. It can turn into periodontitis resulting in tooth loss and even destruction of the jaw bone itself. Evidence shows that untreated periodontitis can increase one’s risk of stroke and heart disease.
Fortunately, by practicing good brushing and flossing habits, you can help prevent gum disease. It is also important to get regular cleanings and checkups at your dentist.
The Signs Of Gingivitis
If your gums bleed easily, are often swollen and tender to touch, you might have gingivitis. Other symptoms include bad breath, loose or sensitive teeth, and frequent mouth sores.
The Causes of Gum Disease
When plaque builds up in the mouth, it sticks to teeth causing them to decay. This creates a problem for the gums. Plaque is caused by bacteria from food particles and mucus in the mouth. If it is not removed regularly through brushing, flossing and through regular dental cleanings, it can lead to gingivitis.
Poor dental care is the leading cause of gum disease, but you can also cause it by brushing your teeth too aggressively. Smoking and hormonal changes in pregnancy also contribute to gum disease, and so does uncontrolled diabetes. You may also suffer from gum disease if your teeth are aligned improperly, you have poorly fitting dentures or braces, or you are on various medications, including birth control pills.
Diseases like HIV or AIDS and cancers can also increase the risk of gum disease because they weaken the immune system. Gingivitis also tends to run in families so if your parents had gingivitis, it is likely that you will get it as well.
The Gingivitis Diagnoses
Visit your dentist if you have any of the above symptoms. He or she will conduct a thorough exam and will use a probe to determine how far the gingivitis has progressed. The probe is like a small ruler and it measures how large the spaces are between your gums and your teeth. If the spaces are large enough, it is likely you have gingivitis and require treatment.
The Treatments Available
Your dentist will perform a deep clean of your teeth and may recommend certain medications to rid your mouth of inflammation and bacteria. You will also be given a regimen to follow at home that includes flossing.
Stop gingivitis before it progresses to periodontitis, as this more serious form of gum disease could require surgery. Limit the sugars you eat, do not smoke and make sure you brush your teeth twice daily.