Gum disease can affect anyone at any age as it is associated with poor oral care habits. Even if you are visiting your dentist twice a year, you could still develop gum disease if you do not practice proper care at home. To help you maintain a healthy and beautiful smile, let’s take a look at what causes gum disease and what you can do to prevent it.
What Is the Cause for Gum Disease?
The primary cause for gum disease is the bacterial contained in plaque. Plaque is the sticky clear or white substance that forms on the teeth from eating food and drinking beverages. If the plaque is not removed with twice daily brushing and once daily flossing, it can harden and turn into tartar, a calcified substance.
Initially the bacteria in plaque and tartar targets the teeth and gums and can lead to inflamed gum tissue. If the bacteria is not removed from daily at-home oral care, the bacteria can spread into the actual gum tissue and jaw bone.
Gum disease occurs in three stages:
- Gingivitis: At this stage you might notice sore, sensitive, or bleeding gums. The plaque has primarily accumulated along the base of the teeth at the gum line. If it is not removed, the bacteria creates irritants that cause the gum tissue to become inflamed and slowly start to recede and pull away from the tooth.
- Periodontitis: At this stage, the gum tissue has receded and exposed the base of the tooth structure. Pockets have formed below the gum line where plaque and bacteria can remain, causing further damage. The density of the jaw bone can also become infected and start to shrink.
- Advanced Periodontitis: At this stage, the gum tissue and parts of the jaw bone are completely destroyed. The bacteria has spread further into the gum tissue and jaw bone and will continue to erode any remaining healthy tissue and bone. Permanent teeth loss is also common at this stage.
Preventing Gum Disease
The easiest way to prevent gum disease is to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day. You need to brush the tops, sides, backs, and in between each tooth, as well as along the gum line to remove plaque. You also need to floss once a day to remove plaque from in between the teeth. In addition, you should visit your dentist at least twice a year for proper cleanings and to remove tartar.
Managing Gum Disease
In the event you have gum disease, there are things you can do to help prevent the condition from worsening. Gingivitis is fully correctable with the proper dental care and treatments. Periodontitis cannot be fully reversed so disease management should be a priority. At the last stage, aggressive treatments can still help prevent tooth loss.