Gum disease is one of those maladies that can catch you by surprise if you are not diligent. Staying on top of proper oral hygiene is the first line of defense against gum disease; however, it is not the only one. Regular general dentistry treatments, such as cleanings and checkups, are also necessary to keep it at bay.
Many people believe that most teeth are lost to tooth decay. This may be true for younger people; however, with age, more teeth are lost to gum disease than to decay. This may be partially due to the fact that many people neglect their teeth when they do not have any symptoms that warrant a visit to the dentist. They may not realize that while they are not experiencing symptoms of decay, their teeth are still being compromised due to advancing gum disease.
In the early stages, gum disease, or gingivitis as it is also known, is easy to treat, and the results of clearing it up are usually very good. Early treatment consists of a thorough exam and cleaning. Tartar and plaque buildup is removed from the teeth. A special mouthwash or toothpaste may be prescribed to aid in the healing process.
The beginning of gingivitis is not very noticeable. Plaque, a clear, sticky film, builds up on the teeth. It collects in places that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush or floss and on teeth that are not regularly brushed or flossed. If not removed, the plaque hardens and turns into a substance called calculus, or tartar. This substance cannot be removed by brushing or flossing. Once tartar has accumulated on the teeth, it must be eliminated with special dental instruments.
When neglected, the tartar continues to collect, and it causes the gums to detach from the teeth. This process forms pockets in which more bacteria and food particles accumulate. The mixture breeds infection causing the gums to become puffy or swollen. They turn bright pink or red and may bleed from time to time during brushing.
Poor oral hygiene is not the only cause of gum disease. It can also be the result of taking some medications. These medications may impair your immune system, causing you to be more susceptible to gum disease. Girls and women tend to be more vulnerable to the problem during times of hormonal fluctuations. There are also individuals who are genetically at higher risk of developing gum disease.
Knowing your risk factors and being aware of the onset of gum disease will help tremendously in fighting the disease. Of course, maintaining excellent oral hygiene and visiting your dentist on a regular basis for a dental exam and cleaning is always the best defense. Contact Rock Point Family Dentistry today to schedule an appointment and keep gum disease at bay.