Periodontal Health – What Is Gum Disease?
Oral health is an important part of staying in good physical condition, but gum disease can creep up and cause severe damage. Preventing this disease from taking over a person’s life comes down to understanding the warning signs and common symptoms. If people are informed about gum issues and disease, they can take the necessary steps for treatment.
Basic facts about gum disease
Essentially, periodontal disease occurs when gums become infected after bacterium has accumulated on and around the teeth. Before seeking treatment or making a self-diagnosis, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of this disease.
Causes and symptoms
As mentioned, bacteria buildup is the main cause of periodontal disease and the underlying root of the problem. The bacterium combines with food particles to create a sticky substance, called plaque, on the surface of the teeth that then hardens over time and affects the gums. Certain medications, smoking and genetic disposition are all potential causes. Once this plaque forms, people can notice a number of symptoms:
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Tender gums
- Receding gum line
- Tooth sensitivity
- Loose teeth
- Pain when chewing
- Bad breath
If any of these symptoms of gum disease are present, it may be time to visit a dentist. The earlier this disease is caught and treated, the more a person can lessen the risk of other diseases forming, such as heart disease and diabetes.
At a dental appointment, either the hygienist or dentist can perform an examination to check for plaque buildup and the health of the gums. Usually, this is done by checking the depth of the gum pockets around the teeth. If this disease is present, a thorough cleaning will likely take place, along with an explanation of proper steps for maintaining oral hygiene and health. A patient may also be referred to a periodontist whose work focuses on treating individuals with gum disease.
Fortunately, there are several things people can do at home to help prevent this oral health problem. For example, quitting smoking can significantly lessen a person’s risk for bacteria buildup. Regular checkups and cleanings also help keep gums healthy. Dentists recommend flossing at least once a day to remove food particles and bacteria from between the teeth, as well as using fluoride toothpaste to brush twice daily. Fluoride is especially good for protecting teeth and gums.
However, some people are more susceptible to periodontal disease than others, and no amount of brushing or flossing is entirely effective in preventing plaque buildup. For these individuals, dentists recommend using a water flosser to help irrigate the gums, as well as a fluoride mouth rinse for even more protection. Although there may be no surefire way for certain people to prevent periodontal disease, these are steps that may minimize the risks.
Sore and painful gums are obvious signs of gum disease and should not be ignored. Whenever an individual experiences any of the symptoms listed above, it is vital to visit a dentist right away. The sooner periodontal disease is addressed, the earlier a dental professional can initiate treatment.
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