Gum Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, and Prevention

a person with jaw pain
  • Gum disease is an infection of the tissues around and supporting teeth caused by bacteria buildup due to plaque.
  • Symptoms can include redness or swelling, bleeding when brushing, and many more.
  • Gum disease can be treated with a deep cleaning and antibiotics if necessary.
  • It is essential to seek treatment immediately if you notice any signs of gum disease.

Many people don’t think twice about their gums. They’re often forgotten until you see a dental hygienist, who may tell you they look a bit red and inflamed. For most people, this isn’t a cause for alarm—just an indication that it’s time to brush better or floss more often.

But in some cases, what looks like a minor irritation is the symptom of something far more severe: gum disease. This blog post will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatments of gum disease so that you can ensure your mouth stays healthy.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis, is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting your teeth. This infection is caused by bacteria that accumulate due to plaque formation on the teeth.

Plaque is a sticky film composed of bacteria, food particles, saliva, and other debris that builds up on your teeth if not removed correctly with brushing and flossing. If left untreated for too long, the bacterial infection can spread below the gum line and into the bone structure supporting your teeth, leading to tooth loss and other complications.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

symptom of gum disease

The most common symptoms of gum disease include redness or swelling around the gums; bleeding when brushing or flossing; chronic lousy breath; receding gums; loose teeth; tenderness in gums; pain when eating; abscesses in the mouth; pus between teeth and gums; changes in bite alignment; changes in the fit of dentures or bridges; changes in tooth color (darkening); jawbone damage/shrinking bone tissue near affected areas.

It’s important to note that many people with gum disease do not experience any symptoms until it has already caused significant damage to their oral health. Therefore, you must visit your trusted dentist regularly for checkups so that any signs or symptoms can be caught early on before they become more severe.

Treating Gum Disease

If caught early enough, gum disease can be treated with a deep cleaning called scaling and root planing (SRP). During SRP procedures, a dentist removes plaque buildup from above and below the gum line using special instruments designed for this purpose. The procedure also involves smoothing out rough spots on root surfaces, which helps prevent further buildup of plaque and bacteria accumulation at those spots in the future.

In some cases, antibiotics may also be prescribed to help clear up infections caused by bacteria present in advanced cases of gum disease. In severe cases where there has been extensive damage done to surrounding structures such as bone tissue or ligaments, surgery might be necessary as well. Still, such cases are pretty rare, fortunately!

Preventing Gum Disease

In its early stages, gum disease may not show any symptoms, but untreated, it can lead to severe issues like receding gums or tooth loss. Fortunately, you can take a few simple steps to prevent gum disease and keep your teeth healthy.

Brush Twice a Day for Two Minutes Each Time

This should go without saying, but brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes is essential for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Make sure you brush at least twice daily, in the morning and before bedtime.

Use Mouthwash

woman rinsing with mouthwash

Mouthwash is designed to kill bacteria in your mouth and help prevent plaque buildup. For best results, use a mouthwash containing fluoride to protect against cavities.

Floss Regularly

In addition to brushing twice a day, you should also floss daily. Flossing helps remove plaque between your teeth where your toothbrush bristles may not reach. To floss correctly, use about 18 inches of dental floss wrapped around each middle finger and hold it taut with your thumbs and forefingers.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

No matter how well you brush or floss at home, it would be best to visit an experienced dentist to get a professional cleaning and checkup at least twice a year. During your appointments, the dental team can help diagnose any early signs of gum disease so that it can be treated before it progresses to more severe stages.

While it’s easy to overlook our gums since they’re usually hidden from view unless we open our mouths wide enough during visits with our dentists, they play an essential role in maintaining our overall oral health! If you notice any signs or symptoms discussed here, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your dentist immediately so that they can diagnose any potential problems early on before they worsen over time, leading to further complications down the road!


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