Gum disease is usually the result of poor oral hygiene and is very common among Canadians. In this post, our Oakville dentists talk about the causes of gum disease and how you can prevent it.
Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) is an infection of the bone and soft tissues that support the teeth. When you hear your dentist talking about gingivitis, they are referring to gum disease in its mildest or moderate forms, when it is only affecting the soft tissues.
More advanced forms of the disease infect bones and supporting structures of the teeth. This can eventually lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
Common Causes of Gum Disease
A number of factors can contribute to your risk of developing gum disease, including plaque and bacteria buildup in the mouth, hormonal shifts, smoking, nutritional deficiencies, some prescription medications, uneven teeth, and even genetics.
Bleeding gums are a clue that you may have gum disease, which is why you should schedule an appointment with your dentist if you notice that your gums are bleeding. Because your mouth contains millions of bacteria, it's essential to maintain excellent daily oral hygiene habits to disrupt the bacteria.
If it is left too long, your body will try to rid itself of undisturbed bacteria by sending more blood to your gums. The excess blood may cause swelling, soreness, bleeding, and redness. Your body thinks it has an infection - this is called gingivitis, and it won't heal until the source of infection is 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.
Tips For Avoiding Gum Disease
There aren't any real 'tips and tricks' when it comes to avoiding gum disease. The best way to avoid gum disease is to maintain good oral hygiene habits.
None of the above-listed factors alone can result in the development of gum disease. If you maintain a rigorous and thorough oral hygiene routine, it will be very difficult for gum disease 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 prevented easily 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 health practices.