Taking care of your teeth and mouth is very important to prevent other health problems. People don’t realize the mouth is full of bacteria that require daily brushing and flossing to keep under control. Your saliva contains enzymes that destroy the bacteria also. When bacteria enter your body through a diseased gum line, then you could get into trouble with other health problems.
Brushing and flossing helps to get rid of plaque that is on teeth. If not removed, plaque can harden and form tartar. Only a professional can remove tartar during your cleaning at the dentist office. If tartar is not removed, bacteria builds and can cause inflammation, redness, swelling and bleeding of the gums or gingivitis. This mild form of gum disease can be reversed with daily brushing and flossing. Otherwise, it could lead to more severe periodontitis.
Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease; however, other factors do contribute. Risk factors include hormonal changes, diabetes, medications, cancers, AIDS, smoking and genetics or family history.
Signs of Gum Disease:
Dentists will look for signs of gum disease with their periodontal probe of each tooth. They are looking for how your gums attach to your teeth. They may also take x-rays of how much bone is around your teeth. Before going to the dentist, you can check your gums for signs of gum disease yourself. Here are some of the major signs of gum disease:
• Bad breath that just won’t go away
• A change in your gum color or red and swollen gums
• Gums that bleed every time you brush or floss
• A taste of metal in your mouth
• Sensitive or loose teeth
• Painful teeth when chewing
• Your gums seem to be pulling away from your teeth
• Dentures are fitting differently
The best prevention for gum disease is good oral hygiene and regular professional cleaning. You should brush your teeth twice a day, floss every day, eat a well balanced diet, avoid smoking and visit your dentist routinely for a cleaning. More severe forms of gum disease can be treated by a more extensive cleaning of the tooth root below the gum line. There are medications that can be used to treat gum disease in the form of a rinse, gel or pill form. If the damage is severe, surgery may be necessary to clean the deep pockets.
To avoid gum disease, start early by simply brushing and flossing your teeth to avoid tooth loss as an adult. Your dentist can recommend the use of fluoride toothpaste or mouth rinse to use. If you have any questions on oral care, ask your dentist or hygienist.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Canadian Dental Association:
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: