Poor oral hygiene can lead to gum disease - an extremely common issue among Canadian adults. Today, our Canmore dentists describe how poor oral hygiene leads to gum disease, and what you can do to avoid the condition.
What is gum disease?
Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease infects the bone and soft tissues that support the teeth. If your dentist discusses gingivitis, this is the most mild or moderate form of gum disease, and it only impacts soft tissues.
Once gum disease becomes more advanced, it can infect bones and the teeth's supporting structures. Left untreated, this can eventually leave to tooth loss.
What causes gum disease?
Many contributing factors can increase your risk of developing gum disease, including bacteria and plaque building up in the mouth, smoking, hormonal shifts, some prescription medications, uneven teeth, nutritional deficiencies and genetics.
One clue that you may have gum disease is if you notice your gums are bleeding, which is why you should book an appointment with your dentist if you notice this occurring. Since millions of bacteria are in your mouth, maintaining great oral hygiene on a daily basis is a must to disrupt the bacteria.
If it is left too long, your body will try to rid itself of undisturbed bacteria by sending more blood to your gums. The excess blood may cause swelling, soreness, bleeding and redness. Your body thinks it has infection - this is called gingivitis, and it won't heal until the source of infection is eliminated.
Bacteria can be found in plaque, tartar or calculus, pockets beneath the gums (in cases of advanced gum disease), cavities, abscesses and chipped teeth. They may also hide in old dental work, as repairs to your teeth create an edge or margin that bacteria can adhere to.
What can I do to avoid gum disease?
There are no real 'tips and tricks' when it comes to avoiding gum disease. The best way to avoid developing gum disease is to maintain good oral hygiene habits, plain and simple.
None of the above-listed factors alone can cause gum disease to develop and thrive. If you maintain a rigorous and thorough oral hygiene routine, it will be very difficult for gum disease to start to take hold.
For example, while you may be prone to plaque buildup (perhaps due to genetics), as long as you brush and floss your teeth twice a day and visit your dentist as prescribed for regular professional cleanings and checkups, chances are that gum disease will not be able to fully develop.
Whether a pregnancy causes a hormonal shift, you take prescription medication, or are a regular smoker, the most common cause of gum disease is the unimpeded development of bacteria and plaque in the mouth.
Most of the time, gum disease can be easily prevented with a good oral hygiene routine. While the issues listed above can increase your risk (and make prevention more challenging), whether it actually develops comes down to the decisions you make every day about your oral oral health practices.