Our practice is proud to participate in the global public awareness campaign for Gum Disease Awareness Month, which occurs every February. This campaign is aimed at educating individuals on the prevention of gum disease, which is a serious oral health condition that can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. Gum disease is caused by bacteria that reside in dental plaque. It's important to maintain a daily oral hygiene routine, including brushing and flossing, to remove this bacterial film and prevent tooth enamel and gum tissue breakdown. Poor oral hygiene is the leading cause of gum disease, but other factors such as stress, a high sugar diet, tobacco and alcohol use, misaligned teeth, fluctuating hormone levels, cancer, and diabetes mellitus can also contribute to its development.
Gum disease is often painless in its early stages, making it difficult to detect. However, there are several symptoms to watch out for, including bleeding, redness, swelling, and tenderness of the gums, chronic bad breath or bad taste in the mouth, tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, loose-feeling teeth, gum tissue pulling away from the teeth, altered bite pattern, loose-fitting partial dentures, pus around teeth and gums, and pain when chewing. There are three stages of gum disease, first is gingivitis, the progresses to periodontitis, and the worst stage is advanced periodontitis. Gingivitis is the beginning stage, characterized by gum inflammation, swelling, redness, and bleeding. It can be reversed with proper treatment since it hasn't yet affected the supportive bone and connective tissue. Periodontitis is the intermediate stage where supportive bone and connective tissue become irreversibly damaged, and gum pockets form below the gum line, allowing plaque buildup to occur. This stage requires interventive periodontal treatment, like scaling and root planing, along with a more stringent daily oral hygiene routine. Advanced periodontitis is the worst stage where connective bone and tissue material have been destroyed, causing teeth to loosen and shift out of position, altering speech, bite, and the ability to chew properly. Without treatment, teeth will likely need to be extracted.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent gum disease from ruining your oral environment. These include maintaining a diligent daily oral hygiene routine, attending biannual dental checkups and cleanings, rinsing your mouth with water after eating, limiting bacteria-feeding sugars in your diet, and quitting tobacco use. By taking a proactive approach to your oral health, you can help ensure that your teeth and gums remain healthy and beautiful.