Did you know that about 80% of adults get gum disease at some point in their lives? Though these numbers are pretty overwhelming, by knowing the causes, treatments, and warning signs of gum disease, you can prevent the damaging effects of gum disease and keep a beautiful, healthy smile.
Gum disease is nearly always caused by the bacteria that are always present, living in your mouth. Our dental hygiene and the body’s natural defenses in saliva are what keep these bacteria in check, but often bacteria will build up in between your teeth and your gums become inflamed, red, and sore. This early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. You should always be on the lookout for gums that bleed and turn red or swollen after normal brushing and flossing.
Unchecked gingivitis can lead to the more serious form the disease—periodontitis. The bacteria between teeth and gums eat away at your gums and your teeth, digging deeper and deeper down. Eventually, the gums start to pull away from your teeth and recede further down, allowing the infection to set deep in. The body’s immune system will start to fight the infection, causing pus to build up in the pockets. The worst case scenario is that the bone supporting your teeth will weaken and the gums become so damaged that your teeth will loosen and fall out.
If you notice that your gums have pulled away from your teeth, or if your teeth seem longer than usual, or if your teeth fit differently when you bite, that could be a sign that your teeth have been loosened by gum disease. If pus comes out from between your teeth if you press on your gums or if you have a constant bad taste or bad breath, this could be also be a sign of periodontitis.
In addition to regular brushing and flossing, there are a few lifestyle changes you can make to decrease your chances of getting gum disease. If you smoke, quit as soon as you can because you are at a much greater risk for gum disease. Smoking causes the body’s defenses against infection to weaken. Likewise, people with diabetes have also much higher risk for disease because of their weakened ability to fight off disease. Keeping blood sugar levels under control is essential to keeping good dental health.
At APEX Family Dentistry, we have the best tools to help people prevent and treat gum disease. Our DEKA CO2 laser, which is used for a variety of general dental and cosmetic surgery procedures, can help take care of gum disease more completely and more effectively than other methods.