If you have recently experienced bleeding, swollen, or sore gums, painful chewing, or even loss of a tooth, you may be experiencing symptoms of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. It’s important to spot the symptoms early and care for your gums as much as you care for your teeth. Like teeth, your gum tissue will not grow back once it recedes or is damaged.
What causes gum disease?
- Plaque: plaque, the think bacteria film that can accumulate without frequent brushing, is the most common cause of gum disease. However, it is the most easily prevented. Daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing is enough to keep dangerous levels of plaque at bay.
- Smoking: introducing dangerous foreign agents into our mouth interferes with normal gum tissue function, which leaves you open to infections like gum disease.
- Prescription medications: many medications list “dry mouth” as a side effect. When medications interfere with the production of saliva, bacteria – like those that cause gum disease – can spread more easily.
- Family history: consult with your family dentist if your family has a history of gum disease. You may be at a higher risk for developing it, but with your dentist’s help it can be prevented.
- There are many other factors that could lead to gum disease, including crooked teeth, nutritional deficiencies, and hormonal shifts. So if you’re experiencing any redness, swelling, or bleeding in your gums, consult with your family dentist.
Early signs of gum disease include:
- Persistent bad breath
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Pain when chewing or brushing
- Loose or sensitive teeth
- Receding gums
The cause of gum disease in infection in the gum tissue, so the first response will be controlling the infection. Your dentist may advise you to stop smoking, brush and floss more often, or even adjust your medications. Beyond this, treatment will depend on the level of progression of your gum disease.
Remember that early gum disease is treatable, so visit your local dentist every 6 months to be proactive in your dental health. While gum tissue will not grow back, you may be offered surgical treatments depending on the severity of your case. Brush regularly and don’t skip your routine check-ups!