Periodontal Disease: How does gum disease form?
Gum disease (also referred to as periodontal disease) is an infection of the bone and soft tissues that support the teeth. Did you know that gingivitis is actually gum disease in its mildest form? This form of gum disease only affects the soft tissues in your mouth.
Once gingivitis had advanced to full gum disease it can actually cause bone loss which can lead to tooth loss.
What are the underlying causes of gum disease?
While there is no one leading factor that can cause gum disease, some of the common contributors include plaque and bacteria buildup in the mouth, hormonal shifts, smoking, nutritional deficiencies, some prescription medications, uneven teeth and even genetics.
If you notice bleeding gums when you are brushing your teeth you should contact your dentist as soon as possible as these can be signs that you are experiencing gum disease in some form. Because your mouth contains millions of bacteria, great oral hygiene every day is a must - to disrupt the bacteria.
If it is left too long, your body will try to rid itself of undisturbed bacteria by sending more blood to your gums. The excess blood may cause swelling, soreness, bleeding and redness. Your body thinks it has an infection - this is called gingivitis, and it won't heal until the source of the infection is eliminated.
Bacteria can be found in plaque, tartar or calculus, pockets beneath the gums (in cases of advanced gum disease), cavities, abscesses and chipped teeth. Bacteria can also make previously completed dental work their home as there are usually many edges to stick to.
Is there anything that you can do to avoid gum disease?
The best way to avoid gum disease is with a strict oral hygiene routine including brushing, flossing and routine professional dental care.
By following the recommendations from your dentist you will be able to help deter the bacteria from sticking to your teeth and gums.
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 health practices.