While gum disease is incredibly common, it isn’t something you hear very much about. Some of us might remember hearing more about it when we were kids, and everyone emphasized oral care and cavity prevention. But, even then it was just an afterthought or a highlight. It hasn’t been anything we pay much attention to. But, why is that and what is gum disease?

What is Gum Disease?

What we call gum disease is periodontitis. It is sometimes confused with gingivitis, which is the swelling that comes before gum disease. It happens when the bacteria in plaque causes inflammation in the gums.  While that progression doesn’t have to occur, it usually does. This is because gingivitis causes the gum to recede from the tooth, causing pockets. These pockets become infected if not treated and that is when periodontitis steps in. This isn’t necessarily horrible news. It is something that you can fix on your own if you catch it early enough. If you wait too long, the problem will persist, and surgery will be needed.

What Causes Gum Disease?

While poor oral hygiene is the main culprit, there are other factors that can contribute. Hormonal changes can cause your gums to be more sensitive. This makes it easier for gums to withdraw and disease to develop. Illnesses may also cause the strength of your immune system to drop and infections more likely. That also applies to cavities and periodontal disease. Some medications can cause the mouth to dry. Saliva is the way your mouth protects itself, and without it, your oral health will suffer. Smoking can cause problems with your mouth and its ability to repair any damage that it suffers. If you have a family history of oral disease, that will also cause problems.

What are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?

It can be hard to know when you need to see a dentist and when you just need to take better care of your teeth. When your gums bleed during or after brushing, that is a sign that something isn’t right. So are red or swollen gums. If you find terrible breath or a bad taste persists, that is something to pay attention to. Hallmarks of this condition tend to be receding gums and deep pockets between your teeth; which is where periodontal disease not only forms but thrives. You will want to see a dentist if these symptoms manifest, you can start here.

You will know that this is an immediate need if your teeth become shaky or fit together differently. This can mean that gum disease has been an issue for a while and your teeth are at risk. If you ignore these signs, not only will you lose teeth; but your gum health could be so severe that surgeries may be needed to maintain the integrity of your mouth. And that is something that is essential to your health. Your mouth is the door to your body, and its balance is needed to stay healthy.

Treatment and Prevention

Gum disease is easily treated if you catch it early enough. It is possible that it could be as simple as a prescribed mouth rinse or as complicated as surgery. This is why it is crucial to maintain good oral health and detect any infections or abnormalities early. The best way to prevent gum disease is to establish a healthy dental routine and stick to it. Be sure to brush and floss twice a day. Be sure to have two professional cleanings a year. They can also let you know if there are any signs of infection that you should be worried about. Antibacterial rinses are also an excellent way to control plaque and a facet that should be part of your regimen.

Gum disease is something that doesn’t get the attention it deserves but is easily preventable. Just be sure that you are taking care of your teeth, so you don’t lose them. You want to see a dentist according to the schedule they set up with you. This is a well-known condition that can be easily corrected when given the proper attention and early on. You don’t want to keep putting off something that is avoidable with basic care. You can read more about what you need to do to avoid gum disease here.

These adjustments can be easier to make by establishing an oral care routine that has become second nature. Once you are brushing and flossing twice daily, you won’t even think about it. It will seem less like a chore and more like second nature. This will make gum disease prevention a certainty and be a tremendous asset to your health. You will feel better and look better. After all, a reflection of excellent oral health is your smile!