One of the reasons oral hygiene is so important is that it’s a key component of preventing gum disease, which is also known as periodontal disease. Not only is gum disease one of the most common dental problems, it’s also been linked to severe health issues like diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
What is gum disease?
The food that we eat causes bacteria to grow and form plaque, a sticky colourless substance that sticks to our teeth. If you don’t brush and floss regularly to remove plaque, it will harden into tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional. If left on the teeth for too long, plaque and tartar will cause periodontal disease.
Gum inflammation known as gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and can usually be reversed. However, untreated gingivitis can turn into periodontitis, which causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and become infected. If periodontitis isn’t treated, the bone and gums that support your teeth can be destroyed.
Who’s at risk?
Anyone who doesn’t practice good oral hygiene is at risk for gum disease, but other factors can put someone to be more at risk for it. Hormonal changes in women, such as pregnancy, can cause result in gum disease, as can certain illnesses. Smokers are also more susceptible to it; smoking can lower the chances of successful treatment.
Symptoms to look out for
Some of the common signs of gum disease include:
• Bad breath
• Red, swollen gums
• Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
• Pain when chewing
• Teeth that appear longer than usual
• Loose teeth
Treatment for periodontal disease
If you’re in the early stages of gingivitis, treatment can be as simple as visiting your dentist for a cleaning followed by proper oral hygiene. For advanced gingivitis or periodontitis, your dentist may suggest scaling to remove tartar and plaque, root planning to smooth the root and discourage plaque build up and antibiotics if your gums are infected. If you have advanced periodontitis, treatment may involve surgery.
Keep your gums healthy to avoid gum disease
The most critical part of preventing and treating gingivitis is practicing proper oral hygiene.
– Brush at least twice a day or after every meal using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste
– Floss once a day, making sure to get between all your teeth
– Visit your dentist twice a year for preventative dentistry and cleaning