The most important things I should know about gum disease

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What is gum disease?

The most important things I should know about  gum disease

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth. Also called periodontal disease.

There are two types of gum disease:

  • ThegingivitisIt is gum disease that affects only the gums, the soft tissue that surrounds the teeth.
  • Theperiodontitisit is more serious.┬áIt spreads below the gums to damage the tissues and bone that support the teeth.

What is the cause of gum disease?

Gum disease is caused by the growth of microbes called bacteria on the teeth and gums. Bacteria are present in theplate, a transparent and sticky substance that produces the mouth.

  • The bacteria in plaque feed on the sugars in the foods you eat and drink and produce poisons (toxins) and other chemicals. The toxins irritate the gums, causing them to swell and bleed easily when brushed.
  • Over time, plaque can harden into a deposit called tartar. This further irritates the gums and causes them to pull away from the teeth.

Things that increase your chances of getting gum disease include:

  • Not cleaning your teeth well at home and not getting regular dental cleanings.
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco. People who use tobacco are much more likely to get gum disease than those who don’t. They also have more serious gum disease that leads to tooth loss and is difficult to treat.
  • Having gum disease in the family.
  • Having a problem that weakens thesystemimmune, such as high levels of stress or a disease such as diabetes, AIDS or leukemia.
  • Eating a diet low in vitamins and minerals, which can weaken your immune system, or high in sugary foods and carbohydrates, which can help plaque grow.

What are the symptoms?

Healthy gums are pink and firm, fit well around the teeth, and do not bleed easily. Gingivitis produces:

  • Red, swollen and sensitive gums.
  • Gums that bleed easily during brushing or flossing.

Gingivitis is usually not painful, so you may not notice symptoms and may not receive the treatment you need.

With periodontitis, the symptoms are easier to see, such as:

  • Gums that separate from the teeth.
  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away.
  • Pus coming out of the gums.
  • A change in how the teeth fit together when biting.
  • loose teeth

If you think you have gum disease, see your dentist right away. Early treatment can prevent it from getting worse.

How is gum disease diagnosed?

To find out if you have gum disease, your dentist or dental hygienist will do an exam to see if you have:

  • bleeding gums
  • Hard deposits of plaque and tartar above and below the gums.
  • Areas where the gums separate from the teeth or recede from the teeth.
  • Sacs that have formed between the teeth and gums.

Your dentist or dental hygienist may take X-rays of your teeth to check for bone damage and other problems.

How is it treated?

Early treatment of gum disease is very important. It can help prevent permanent gum damage, control infection, and prevent tooth loss. For the treatment to work:

  • Brush your teeth 2 times a day and floss 1 time a day.
  • See your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco products.

For gingivitis, your dentist may prescribeantibioticsto help fight infection. They can be applied directly to the gums, swallowed as tablets or capsules, or used to swish as with a mouthwash. Your dentist may also recommend an antibacterial toothpaste that reduces plaque and gingivitis when used regularly.

For periodontitis, your dentist or dental hygienist can clean your teeth using a method called root planing and scaling. This removes accumulated plaque and tartar from both above and below the gum line.

You may need surgery if these treatments don’t control the infection or if you have severe damage to your gums or teeth. Surgery options include:

  • Gingivectomy to remove pockets between the teeth and gums where plaque can accumulate.
  • A flap procedure to clean the roots of a tooth and repair damage to the bone.
  • Extraction to remove loose or badly damaged teeth.

After surgery, you may need to take antibiotics or other medicines to help healing and prevent infection.

After treatment, keep your mouth free of disease by brushing and flossing to prevent plaque buildup. Your dentist will probably prescribe an antibacterial mouthwash.

How can you prevent gum disease?

Gum disease is most common in adults, but it can affect anyone, including children. That’s why good dental habits are important throughout life.

  • Brush your teeth 2 times a day, in the morning and before bed, with a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
  • Floss once a day.
  • Visit your dentist for regular checkups and teeth cleaning.
  • Do not use tobacco products.

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