Many Canadian adults will develop gum disease in their lifetime. It's often caused by poor oral hygiene. In this post, our Burnaby dentist explains how poor oral hygiene can lead to gum disease, and which actions we recommend taking to avoid the condition.
What is gum disease?
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is an infection of the soft tissues and bone of the teeth. When your dentist mentions gingivitis, this is the mildest or most moderate type of gum disease, and it only impacts soft tissues.
As the disease advances, it infects bones and structures that support the teeth. Left untreated, this can eventually lead to tooth loss.
What causes gum disease?
Several factors can play a role in your risk of developing gum disease, from bacteria and plaque buildup in the mouth to nutritional deficiencies, hormonal shifts, some prescription medications, smoking, genetics and uneven teeth.
If you have bleeding gums, this can indicate gum disease, which is why if you notice this symptom you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. Because there are millions of bacteria in your mouth, maintaining a rigorous daily oral hygiene routine is a must to disrupt the bacteria.
Left untreated, gum disease can trigger your body to try to eliminate the undisturbed bacteria by sending more blood to your gums. This excess blood can cause soreness, swelling, redness and bleeding. Your body sees this as an infection called gingivitis and it won't heal until the source of infection is removed.
Bacteria is found in plaque, tartar or calculus, pockets that form beneath the gums (in cases of advanced gum disease, chipped teeth, abscesses and cavities. They may also hide in old dental work, as repairs to your teeth can create a margin or edge for bacteria to attach itself to.
How can I avoid gum disease?
There are no real 'tips and tricks' when it comes to avoiding gum disease. The best way to avoid developing gum disease is to maintain good oral hygiene habits, plain and simple.
None of the above-listed factors alone can cause gum disease to develop and thrive. If you maintain a rigorous and thorough oral hygiene routine, it will be very difficult for gum disease to start to take hold.
For example, while you may be prone to plaque buildup (perhaps due to genetics), as long as you brush and floss your teeth twice a day and visit your dentist as prescribed for regular professional cleanings and checkups, chances are that gum disease will not be able to fully develop.
Whether a pregnancy causes a hormonal shift, you take prescription medication, or are a regular smoker, the most common cause of gum disease is the unimpeded development of bacteria and plaque in the mouth.
Most of the time, gum disease can be easily prevented with a good oral hygiene routine. While the issues listed above can increase your risk (and make prevention more challenging), whether it actually develops comes down to the decisions you make every day about your oral oral health practices.