Many Canadian adults will develop gum disease. The condition is often caused by poor oral hygiene. Today, our Winnipeg dentists explain how poor oral hygiene leads to gum disease, and which actions you can take to avoid this condition.
What is gum disease?
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is an infection of the soft tissues and bone that support the teeth. Your dentist may have mentioned gingivitis, the most mild or moderate form of gum disease that only affects soft tissues.
More advanced forms of the disease impact bones and the supporting structures of the teeth. Left untreated, this can eventually lead to tooth loss.
What are common causes of gum disease?
Numerous factors can contribute to your risk of developing gum disease, including the buildup of bacteria and plaque in the mouth, smoking, some prescription medications, hormonal shifts, nutritional deficiencies, genetics and uneven teeth.
Bleeding gums are one indication that you may have gum disease, which is why you should see your dentist if you notice that your gums are bleeding. Since your mouth contains millions of bacteria, a great daily oral hygiene routine is a must to disrupt the bacteria and remove it.
If left untreated for too long, your body will attempt to rid itself of undisturbed bacteria by sending more blood to your gums. This excess blood can cause soreness, swelling, redness and bleeding. Your body sees the presence of this bacteria as an infection. The condition is referred to as gingivitis, and it won't heal until the source of infection has been treated and 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. They may also hide in old dental work, as repairs to your teeth create an edge or margin that bacteria can adhere to.
What can I do to 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.