Gum health is as vital as teeth health. Although keeping the teeth in their best condition is necessary, disregarding its surrounding areas is also bad for oral health.
Gums surround the teeth, provide resistance against the friction from food consumption, and act as effective barrier and support to the bones. However, the gums can only do all these when they are healthy.
When does the gum become unhealthy?
Gums become unhealthy when periodontal disease occurs. Also called as gum disease, periodontal disease is characterized by an infection of the surrounding and supporting tissues and bones of the teeth.
Gum disease can be mild or severe. When the infection is in its mild form which is called gingivitis, no bone loss or tissue is involved. Proper oral hygiene can aid in reversing the disease as plaque and tartar which linger on the teeth causes bacteria to proliferate and inflame the gums.
On the other hand, severe or advanced gum disease which is known as periodontitis can lead to damage to the gums, tissues, and bones when untreated. When periodontitis happens, pockets which result from the gums pulling away and forming spaces become infected.
What causes gum disease?
There are several factors which can cause gum disease or increase its likelihood. Hormonal changes in women, medical conditions like diabetes and AIDS, medications, genetic susceptibility, poor oral hygiene, unhealthy eating habits, and lifestyle habits like smoking can increase the risk of periodontal disease.
What are the indications of gum disease?
Symptoms of the periodontal disease can include sensitive teeth, pus coming from the gums, loose teeth, bad breath, pain when chewing, receding gums, and bleeding gums.
When these symptoms mentioned above are observed, consult your dentist immediately. Although exhibiting those signs does not automatically suggest gum disease, paying your dentist a visit will not hurt as he or she can confirm the cause of those symptoms.
How does my dentist check my gums for possible periodontal disease?
During your dental visit, the dentist or hygienist will check your medical records first to get an overview of your health condition. Reviewing your health records is necessary to identify the best course of treatment for you and your risk factors that might have contributed to the symptoms exhibited.
Your gums will be inspected using a probe which will check and measure any spaces or pockets on your gums. A dental X-ray may also be performed to see if there was bone loss.
Your dentist can also refer you to a dental specialist who is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease. This dental specialist is called a periodontist.
What can I do to prevent gum disease?
Practicing proper oral hygiene is key to avoiding gum disease and other dental problems. By brushing your teeth, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash, you remove lingering food particles, combat bacteria, and prevent the build-up of plaque. When proper oral hygiene is ignored, the likelihood of bacteria infecting the gums increases.
Also, include healthy foods in your diet to strengthen gum health. Quitting smoking and minimizing alcohol consumption are also helpful in reducing the risk of gum disease.