Gum disease, or periodontitis, is a gum infection that damages soft tissue in the mouth and can destroy tooth roots and oral bones that support the teeth. If left untreated, periodontitis can lead to tooth mobility and tooth loss.
Though gum disease is common, it’s also largely preventable. Gum disease occurs typically due to poor oral hygiene, and certain lifestyle choices or habits (e.g., using tobacco products) can increase the risk of gum disease.
To stave off gum disease and maintain your smile’s health, we recommend brushing your teeth at least twice daily, flossing daily, and receiving routine dental exams and professional teeth cleans from your dentist. These things can significantly improve your chances of treating and managing gum disease while reducing your risk of developing it.
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease
Healthy gums are pale pink, firm, and fit snugly around your teeth like a glove. Signs and symptoms of gum disease can include any of the following:
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Bright red, dark red, or purple gums
- Tender or sore gums
- Bleeding from the gums
- Spitting blood when flossing or brushing
- Chronic bad breath
- Pus or bumps between the gums and teeth
- Loose teeth
- Tooth loss
- Painful biting and chewing food
- New gaps develop between the teeth
- Receding gums (gums that pull away from the teeth)
- An altered bite (how your teeth fit together)
When to See a Dentist for Periodontal Care in Mount Waverley
Your dentist will recommend a schedule for your regular check-ups and cleans. If you notice any signs or symptoms of gum disease, we invite you to arrange an appointment with your dentist at your earliest convenience. The sooner we can care for the condition, the better your chances are of preserving your smile from periodontitis.
Causes of Gum Disease
Many factors can contribute to the development of gum disease. Periodontitis often starts with plaque, a sticky biofilm composed of bacteria. If the plaque remains untreated, it can build up and eventually progress to periodontitis. Here is how gum disease can develop:
Plaque collects on your teeth from food, beverages and normal oral bacteria. Brushing your teeth at least twice daily and flossing every day clears away the plaque. However, plaque can form again quickly.
Plaque can harden beneath the gumline and turn into tartar (calculus) if it doesn’t get cleaned away from the teeth. Tartar contains harmful bacteria and is difficult to remove. The longer plaque and tartar sit on your teeth, the more harm they can do to your smile’s health. Only a dental professional can safely and thoroughly remove plaque and tartar.
Plaque can lead to gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease. Gingivitis is inflammation and irritation of the gums at the base of your teeth. Fortunately, excellent oral home care and professional treatment can reverse gingivitis.
Untreated or ongoing inflammation can lead to periodontitis. This condition eventually creates small pockets between the teeth and gums, and these pockets fill up with bacteria, plaque and tartar. Over time, the pockets deepen and can lead to infections, loss of bone and tissue and tooth loss.
Gum Disease Risk Factors
A person can increase their risk of developing periodontitis from one or more of the following:
- Poor oral hygiene and health habits
- Hormonal changes, such as pregnancy or menopause
- Smoking and tobacco use
- Poor nutrition, such as a vitamin C deficiency
- Recreational drug use
- Certain medications, especially those that cause dry mouth
- Immunocompromisation, such as leukemia or HIV/AIDS
- Certain diseases, such as diabetes
Complications of Untreated Gum Disease
Periodontitis can be uncomfortable and result in tooth loss. The bacteria from periodontitis can enter the bloodstream through the gums and affect other areas of your body and general health. For example, gum disease is linked to heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory disease and other health concerns.
How to Prevent Periodontitis
The best way to prevent periodontitis is to practice excellent and consistent oral hygiene, according to Better Health.
- Oral hygiene at home – Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice daily and flossing once daily dislodges food debris and bacteria, making your mouth an inhospitable environment for periodontitis-causing bacteria to form.
- Regular visits to your dentist – We recommend visiting your dentist regularly for dental exams and cleans. Many patients have check-ups every six months, but we may need professional teeth cleans more frequently if you are at risk for gum disease.
Gum Disease Treatment in Mount Waverley
Do you have sore or swollen gums, or do you bleed when you brush your teeth? If so, it’s time to arrange a dental appointment with Dr Austin Rhee and our friendly team at Mount Waverley Smiles. We offer comprehensive dentistry services, including preventive dental care and gum disease prevention and treatment.
Our conveniently-located dental practice is pleased to serve patients from all surrounding areas, including Mount Waverley and Glen Waverley.
We invite you to contact us today to learn more or book your exam and clean.