The Ultimate Guide to Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease
For many people, oral hygiene is often a secondary consideration when it comes to health and wellness. However, the reality is that the older you get, the more likely you are to experience issues or challenges when it comes to your mouth and teeth. If you’re at an age where gum disease is becoming a potential issue, or if you think you might be developing symptoms related to gum disease, it’s extremely important to be proactive, get everything checked out, and take diligent care in the future to further prevent any issues.
Read on to learn more about causes, symptoms, treatment, and preventative measures for protecting against gum inflammation or gum disease in the future.
Gingivitis vs Periodontitis: What’s the Difference?
The foundational difference between gingivitis and periodontitis is that gingivitis normally refers to gum inflammation, and can sometimes lead to gum disease, or periodontitis. Gingivitis is actually quite common, and many people will experience it at some point in their lives. If it’s left untreated, however, it could lead to periodontitis and potentially even more urgent issues down the road.
There are many environmental factors and potential causes of gum inflammation and disease, however, the result of these triggers is that plaque and bacteria build up in the gums causing them to become inflamed. In terms of gingivitis, this makes the gums easily irritated, however, your teeth are still safe and secure in their sockets and no long-term damage has been caused.
With periodontitis, however, the inner layer of the gum has pulled away from the teeth and formed small pockets which trap plaque and debris inside them. This can lead to infection, and plaque continuing to spread and collect below the gum line. When this happens, the bacteria and enzymes can start to break down the bones and tissues holding your teeth in their sockets, causing them to become loose and potentially even leading to tooth loss, which is all the more reason to be extremely proactive when it comes to gum care.
Causes of Gum Disease
As previously mentioned, one of the primary causes of gum disease is plaque buildup. Plaque is the food debris and bacteria which remains on the teeth without the proper removal from brushing and flossing. If left on the teeth too long, the buildup produces acids which can deteriorate the enamel on your teeth. When left for too long, the plaque can turn into hardened tartar, making it even more challenging to remove, and causing irritation of the gums which is demonstrated by gingivitis. While plaque is the primary cause of gum disease, there are also several other factors that might contribute to sensitive or irritated gums.
Some medications can impact the flow of saliva which is created by the body to protect gums and teeth. Additionally, drugs such as anticonvulsant medication can cause increased growth of gum tissue, throwing the mouth’s natural rhythm off and irritating gums.
Hormonal changes such as those that occur during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause can also cause gums to be overly sensitive and lead to the development of gingivitis.
Health conditions such as diabetes that impact the body’s insulin levels also make individuals more susceptible to developing infections such as gum disease. Additionally, individuals who are immunocompromised with illnesses such as HIV or cancer are also more susceptible because the body has a more difficult time fighting off infection.
Genetics can also be a contributing factor, and individuals who have families with a history of dental disease are more susceptible to developing sensitive gums and gingivitis.
Finally, smoking is another major contributing factor to gum disease. The build-up of tar residue from cigarettes leads to plaque, and the continuous impact of smoke on the gums makes it much more difficult for the tissue of your gums to repair itself.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
While gum disease may actually exist without any warning signs, chances are there will be some red flags that pop up in terms of potential symptoms. These symptoms of gum disease include but are not limited to things like bleeding gums after tooth brushing, receding gums, gum irritation, and pain after eating, bad breath, loose teeth, bad taste in the mouth, swollen gums, changes in bite, or changes in the fit of dentures. Keep in mind however that even if you don’t notice symptoms, gum disease might still be present. There is a chance that gum disease is limited to only a small section of your mouth or even individual teeth.
The best way to combat any issues is to make sure you’re having regular dental checkups so your dentist can do a thorough scan of your gums and catch any issues before they become too serious.
At each check-up, your dentist will perform a number of different tests to check the tightness of your gums and measure any receding gum lines. Your pocket depth (the space between your gum and tooth) will also be assessed Your dentist will keep an eye out for any of the warning signs and will be able to notice if there are irregularities in your gum color or sensitivity. If your dentist suspects that anything is amiss, it’s time to move forward into the treatment phase.
Gum Disease Treatment
There is a range of treatments for gum disease that might be prescribed by your dentist depending on how far the situation has progressed. Medications or topical creams to help control bacterial growth might be prescribed, and for more serious cases there are surgery options in order to restore tissue connectivity. The goal with gum disease treatment is to help strengthen the connection between your gum and teeth, reduce pocket depth, and reduce swelling and irritation.
Preventing Gum Disease
While gum disease can certainly be treated, your best bet is to make sure you’re practicing all the necessary preventative measures so that it doesn’t become a problem in the first place. The best route towards preventing gingivitis and gum disease is through proper dental care both at home and through getting your teeth professionally cleaned and checked out at least twice a year.
Make sure you’re brushing your teeth at least twice daily to remove any plaque or buildup. For best results, use fluoride toothpaste, and make sure you’re regularly replacing your toothbrush if the bristles begin to fray. For best results, speak to your dentist about some recommended toothbrushes and toothpaste brands.
Investing in some anti-bacterial mouthwash will also go a long well in helping to reduce your risk of gingivitis. Not only will it help reduce bad breath, but it also helps to dissolve plaque in any of those hard-to-reach places that brushing or flossing might not be able to get to.
Flossing is also an extremely important way to get rid of all the plaque and buildup that your regular brushing routine won’t catch. You should floss at least once daily, and make sure you’re getting in between each tooth, including your back molars. Do some experimenting and find which type of flossing is most comfortable for you to use as there are many options- from regular string to picks, to small brushes.
Eating a balanced diet can also go a long way in helping to reduce the risk of gingivitis. Overconsumption of junk food and candy leads to the intake of lots of extra and unnecessary sugars and starch, and poor nutrition can weaken the body’s natural immune system. Eating foods that are jam-packed with antioxidants, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E can help boost your immune system which in turn allows the body to more easily repair any tissue damage that might be occurring.
Other factors that might be weakening your body’s immune system such as stress also make it difficult to fight off any infections, so it’s important to make sure you’re not just taking care of your physical health, but your mental health as well.
Finally, if you’re a smoker, it might be the perfect time to get help and kick the habit. Not only is smoking bad for your lungs and your heart, but it can also be of severe detriment to both your mouth and gums. In fact, smokers are seven times more likely than nonsmokers to develop gum disease, so your body will definitely thank you for kicking the habit.
Avoid & Treat Gum Disease & More Today
If you think you might be developing some of the symptoms of gum disease, or if you’re just looking for an exceptional provider of dental care, get in touch with us at Englewood Dentistry. Our professional staff will work with you to ensure your dental health is in the best condition possible, whether you need crowns, wisdom teeth removal, cosmetic dentistry, or even just a regular check-up.
Contact us to make an appointment today and let us take care of all your dental health needs!