Gum disease is a very common issue affecting Canadian adults. It is often caused by poor oral hygiene. Here, our North York dentists explain how inadequate oral hygiene at home can cause gum disease and how you can avoid this condition.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease (also referred to as periodontal disease) is an infection of the bone and soft tissues that support the teeth. When you hear your dentist talking about gingivitis, this is the most mild or moderate form of gum disease, and it only affects soft tissues.
The most advanced stages of gum disease may involve the infection of bones and the supporting structures for your teeth. These can eventually lead to the loss of your teeth if you don't get your oral health issue promptly treated.
What causes 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 may be a clue that you need to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Since your mouth contains lots of bacteria, excellent oral hygiene is a must in order to disrupt the bacteria and stop them from causing inflammation and bleeding in your gums.
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 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.
What can I do to avoid gum disease?
Really, there aren't any secret tips or tricks to avoiding gum disease. The best way to avoid developing this health issue is what you might suspect: maintaining good oral hygiene habits.
None of the above-listed factors alone can cause gum disease to develop and thrive. If you maintain a rigorous and thorough oral hygiene routine, it will be very difficult for gum disease to start 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 may be easily prevented with a good routine of oral hygiene. While the issues above may increase your risk of developing the disease and make prevention much more challenging, whether it actually develops comes down to decisions you make every day about maintaining your oral hygiene routine.