It must be emphasized that oral mouth is not to be based solely on how straight the teeth are or how bright smiles are. Being cavity-free is great, but it doesn’t necessarily mean one is safe from getting gum disease, warns Dr. Kami Hoss of the Super Dentists. Knowing how to best protect the gums is key to overall oral health.

Keep in mind that gum disease and tooth decay begin with the buildup of plaque along the gum line. Such plaque is made up of bacteria that both damages the gum and the bone. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, and it causes one’s gums to be swollen, tender, inflamed, and prone to bleeding. Unless addressed, this will eventually lead to periodontitis, gum disease’s advanced stage in which bones and tissues connected to the teeth are destroyed. In many cases, periodontitis will entail surgery and the removal of teeth.

Interestingly, most people pay little attention to gum disease since they don’t even know they have it. Also, it’s easy to ignore the tolerable pain associated with it. Of course, this doesn’t mean we should not pay attention to the symptoms. And common symptoms of the onset of gum disease include separating or loose permanent teeth, bad breath, gums pulled away from the teeth, and easily bleeding gums.

Again, the great news is that the damage caused by gum disease, when detected early, is reversible, says Dr. Kami Hoss. One need not be part of the adult population over 30 with a certain degree of gum disease. Better yet, adopt a healthy oral hygiene of flossing, brushing twice a day, quitting smoking, and using fluoride toothpaste.Kami Hoss, MS, DDS, holds a master’s in craniofacial biology and a doctorate in dental surgery. He served as an associate professor at the University of Southern California’s Orthodontics Department. For more dental hygiene tips, go to this page.