You’ve heard a million times over that you need to floss, but have you actually incorporated this vital oral health step into your daily routine? If you’re still on the fence about flossing, maybe learning a bit more about what can happen when you’re not careful with your dental hygiene will help give you the push you need to pick up the floss every day! Gum disease is just one of the repercussions of not maintaining your oral health, but its consequences can be wide. Today we’re delving into the causes and effects of this somewhat common ailment, so you can stay informed and work to keep your mouth and gums healthy!
Gum Disease and Gingivitis Aren’t Exactly the Same
Perhaps you’ve heard the term “gingivitis” used in the same breath as “gum disease”. While these conditions do go hand in hand, they aren’t the same thing. Gingivitis is a condition that precedes gum disease (known medically as periodontitis) and is characterized by inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria that builds up in plaque. If you have been diagnosed with gingivitis, it’s both possible and essential to act quickly to treat the condition before it progresses into periodontitis.
What Happens When Gingivitis Progresses?
Left unchecked, gingivitis will progress into gum disease. The bacteria found in the plaque of the teeth will continue to accumulate, causing damage to gum tissue. Over time, the damage will cause the inner layers of the gums and bones to begin to pull away from the teeth, forming little gaps and pockets. These spaces are perfect harbors for bacteria and debris, eventually causing infection which the body’s immune system will try to fight. As gum disease progresses, plaque will continue to grow and the bones and tissue surrounding your teeth will weaken, eventually leaving permanent teeth loose in their sockets. When this happens, irreversible tooth loss can occur. In fact, gum disease is the main cause for tooth loss in adults in the United States.
Gum disease can be caused by many factors, but the buildup of plaque is the largest contributor to its formation. Additionally, illnesses like HIV, cancer, and diabetes can all impact the body’s immune system and make it harder to fight oral infection. Hormonal changes, like those undergone in menopause or pregnancy, can increase sensitivity in the gums and make gingivitis more likely as well. However, the largest contributing factor to gingivitis and gum disease are poor habits such as smoking and not maintaining a diligent oral health regimen. Twice daily brushing, flossing, and using a mouthwash that kills bacteria will all help your mouth fight plaque buildup and the eventual formation of gingivitis and gum disease.
If you’re starting to worry about the plaque you’re seeing build up on your teeth, do not hesitate in reaching out to your dentist for their professional insight. Luckily, when caught early, it is easy to reverse the effects of gingivitis before it progresses into gum disease!
If you have questions about gum disease and would like to schedule a checkup or a routine cleaning, give us a call at Metro Square Dental Associates in Vernon Hills today!