Did you know that the terms gingivitis, gum disease, and periodontitis are all very similar in nature? Gum disease is actually just another name for periodontitis, and gingivitis is the earliest and mildest form of this disease.
Often caused by poor oral hygiene, gingivitis is completely reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care habits. It may be hard to tell if you have gingivitis because there is usually little or no discomfort. If there is, it’s very mild in the form of red and swollen gums that bleed easily when teeth are brushed. However, don’t be fooled by gingivitis. Although it’s very mild, it can lead to gum disease if left untreated.
According to the Mayo Clinic, gum disease is a serious bacterial gum infection caused by plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. Over time, this plaque can damage the soft tissue in the mouth and destroy the bone that secures your teeth to your jawbones. Because this is a bacterial disease, your body reacts by breaking down the gums and bone in your mouth.
Because gum disease is usually painless, it’s hard to tell if you have it. But there are some symptoms of gum disease that can be spotted:
- Bad breath (that’s not caused by eating an onion or other smelly food!)
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss your teeth
- Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
- Loose or sensitive teeth
- Your teeth fit together differently when you bite
- You notice a change in how your dentures fit
- Painful chewing, meaning you probably have sensitive teeth
There are also some factors that Dr. Kami Hoss explains the increase your chance of developing gum disease.
- Do you brush your teeth twice daily using fluoride toothpaste? Do you floss once a day? Do you visit your dentist twice a year? If you don’t, this poor practice of oral hygiene could increase your chance of developing gum disease.
- Smoking cigarettes, pipes, cigars, or chewing tobacco can increase your chance of getting gum disease.
- According to the American Academy of Periodontology, research has indicated that some people, even if they have fantastic oral care habits, may be more likely to develop gum disease because of genetics.
- Crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean encourage bacteria to grow in hidden areas around your teeth, and that includes the hard to reach places caused by crooked teeth.
- Certain medications, like steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, heart medicines, cancer therapy drugs, and oral contraceptives can make changes to your overall health. Make sure you notify your doctors about all the medicines you’re taking.
- Gum disease is an infection, and with a diet low in nutrients, the body’s immune system might not be getting everything it needs to fight off the infection.
Find out more on how you can take care of your oral health before it takes a toll on Dr. Kami Hoss sites.