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What Is Gum Disease? Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

There’s more to your smile than just your teeth. Your gums form part of the foundation of your smile, and they act as a protective barrier for your teeth and jaw, preventing bacteria from causing harm.

You know you should clean your teeth. There are lots of dental treatments and procedures to keep your teeth looking perfect. But while focusing on your teeth, it’s sometimes easy to forget about your gums and take them for granted. 

Like your teeth, your gums are affected by the same harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay. And along with tooth decay, gum disease is a very common and preventable condition. 

So what is gum disease, and how does it affect you? Here’s what you need to know about gingivitis and periodontitis. 

What Is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the milder form of gum disease. It occurs when plaque and tartar along and under the gumline irritate the soft tissue, causing inflammation. At this stage, gum disease is easily reversed. 

You are at an increased risk of developing gum disease if you’re a smoker, are diabetic, have low levels of vitamin C, are going through hormonal changes such as pregnancy, puberty, or menopause, or if you’re receiving cancer treatment. 

The symptoms of gingivitis are often mild and easily missed. It’s important to visit us for a checkup twice a year, as we can identify the early signs of gum disease. 

What Is Periodontitis? 

As gingivitis progresses, it eventually becomes periodontitis. This is far more serious and can leave severe and lasting damage to your smile. There are some treatments that can help periodontitis; however, without the help of a dentist, you will lose teeth and your jaws may sustain lasting damage. 

What Are the Signs of Gum Disease? 

Some of the first signs of gum disease that you may notice include bleeding gums, inflammation and redness, and bad breath. As gum disease progresses, these symptoms may intensify. Pockets will develop around the base of your teeth. Your teeth may become loose and fall out. 

Periodontitis can affect the way your teeth line up when your mouth is closed. 

How Is Gum Disease Treated?

If you spot the early stages of gum disease, improving your oral hygiene techniques is essential. Thorough brushing twice daily using fluoride toothpaste can help reduce symptoms and prevent the gingivitis from worsening. Use a soft toothbrush, as anything that’s too coarse could irritate your gums. 

Making an appointment with a dental hygiene specialist can also help. A scale and polish will remove the buildup of plaque and tartar around the gum line, reducing inflammation and irritability. 

Root planing is a common treatment for advanced gum disease. Here, tartar is removed from the roots of the teeth. This can help your gums reattach to your teeth. 

How Can You Prevent Gum Disease?

Gum disease is easily avoided. The best way to reduce the risk of developing issues is to brush your teeth for two minutes at a time, brushing right up to the gum line on each tooth. 

Flossing daily reduces plaque buildup between your teeth, while using mouthwash reduces bacteria in your mouth. 

A regular checkup allows us the opportunity to spot the early signs of gum disease, before they become problematic. 

Caring for Your Gum at Nu Dental

Maintaining a beautiful smile means caring for the gums that form part of its foundation. At Nu Dental, we provide a range of services that can benefit your gums. 

To schedule your next checkup or hygiene appointment, get in touch with our friendly team today. 

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