Preventative Family Dentistry: Gum Disease
What is gum disease?
Like tooth decay, gum disease is an often seen ailment in family dentistry. Gum disease begins when bacteria and plaque build up in your mouth, creating an immune response in your system. In order to combat the bad bacteria, your body sends white blood cells to your mouth. This is what causes the distinctive inflammation of your gums.
While of seemingly little consequence at first, progressive gum disease can lead to painful consequences that will severely hinder your quality of life. Fortunately, the signs for gum disease in its early stages are more noticeable than with tooth decay. Your gums begin to bleed easily and become red and swollen around the teeth. Unfortunately, despite these readily apparent signs, individuals consistently overlook gum disease. As such, it is important to realize that bleeding gums, while common, is a sign of an unhealthy and unhappy mouth. Gum disease is understood in two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.
The most prevalent symptom (and defining symptom) of early stage gum disease is inflammation of the gums. Careful examination during your regular checkup should reveal gums reddened around the edges of your teeth. Slight bleeding may occur during brushing as well. At this stage, treatment available to family dentistry is simple and effective: get your teeth professionally cleaned and follow up with a proper and consistent teeth-cleaning regiment at home.
As gum disease progresses from gingivitis to periodontitis, the disease begins to damage the bone in your jaw. While the early symptoms are again deceptively mild, periodontitis involves the unabated loosening of your teeth. Additionally, the constant battle between bacteria and your white blood cells will cause halitosis (bad breath) and erode your enamel, resulting in high (and painful) sensitivity towards temperature in your teeth. The soreness felt by chewing is a symptom indicative of your teeth loosening. Eventually the structures that hold the roots of your teeth will dissolve, causing tooth loss.
How best to avoid gum disease
While gingivitis seems to lack any sincere problem beyond minor pain and annoyances, the latter stage of gum disease engendered by gingivitis, periodontitis, presents a real worry. That’s why it is important to tackle gum disease before it causes irreversible damage. Family dentistry is invested in your long-term health. Be sure to get regular checkups and follow any warnings given by your dentist about preventing your chances of gum disease. As an easily avoidable and reversible, but devastating oral health problem, gum disease should be at the top of your ‘prevention’ list.