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Do You Have Gum Disease?

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shutterstock_115897645Gum disease is an infection of the tissue that surrounds your teeth, known as the gum. It is a widespread issue that often goes undetected. Gum disease is also commonly known as periodontal disease in the dental field.

When bacteria builds up in your mouth and consumes sugars from the food that you eat, it creates plaque, which forms a film on your teeth. Because it is clear, you can’t actually see this film, so good dental hygiene habits are important to ensure you keep your teeth healthy and plaque at bay. If not cleaned regularly, this plaque can eventually build up and cause tartar, which can result in tooth decay and gum disease.  Plaque can be cleaned by yourself, but only a dentist or a hygienist can remove tartar.

The first stage of gum disease is called Gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums. This is often reversible if detected early, but if not treated or taken care of immediately, it can progress into stage two. This stage is known as Periodontitis, which is a more serious  condition where your gums and bone can decay permanently.

When your gums decay, you can actually lose your teeth as the tissue and bone becomes so weak that it is not healthy enough to support your teeth anymore.

shutterstock_211849876Most people will experience at least some form of gum disease during their lifetime, and men are more likely to develop it than women. Regular check ups at your dentist are extremely important, as they can identify any signs of early gum disease. If caught in time, many of the effects of early gum disease are reversible. This is why it’s important to have regular visits to your dentist, especially as you get older.

Certain habits or conditions increase your chances of developing gum disease. Examples of these are poor oral hygiene, smoking, some medications (such as steroids and some oral contraceptives), diabetes, pregnancy, and even genetics. Where possible, cut these things out (such as smoking) and if it’s genetic, pregnancy or diabetes related, it’s important to monitor the condition of your gums for any changes.

While we can’t always tell if we have gum disease, there are a few warning signs that might indicate a problem. These include bleeding gums, receding gums, sensitive teeth, bad breath, and problems with your teeth aligning when biting down.

If you suspect that you have early signs of gum disease, it’s very important that you visit your dentist immediately for a check up. Catching it early means you’re more likely to be able to reverse the effects and avoid any permanent damage. If you have periodontitis, your dentist may refer you to a periodontist who is able to offer specialist treatment.

Good daily oral hygiene habits and a healthy diet are the easiest, most proactive, and most important things you can do to limit your personal risk of gum disease.

Treatment of gum disease involves anything from scaling and deep cleaning of the teeth to gum surgery. However, prevention is always better than cure, so always be disciplined when it comes to oral hygiene.

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