Gum disease (periodontal disease) is a very common oral health problem among Canadian adults, often caused by poor oral hygiene. Here, our Toronto dentists discuss how to prevent gum disease and what can be done to treat it.
What is gum disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the soft tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth. It is also known by its much more common name, gum disease. It can come in several different forms. For example, gingivitis is a mild to moderate form of gum disease that affects only the soft tissues of the mouth and teeth. In more advanced cases of gum disease, the bones and supporting structures of the teeth become infected. If left untreated, this infection can eventually result in tooth loss.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease can be caused by a variety of factors, including bacteria and plaque buildup in the mouth, smoking, hormonal shifts, some prescription medications, nutritional deficiencies, uneven teeth, and even genetics. To reduce your risk of developing gum disease, try to avoid some of the things listed above.
But bear in mind, none of these factors can, on their own, cause gum disease to develop and spread throughout the body. As long as you maintain a rigorous and thorough oral hygiene routine, it will be extremely difficult for gum disease to establish a foothold and spread.
Example: You may be genetically predisposed to plaque buildup; however, if you brush and floss twice a day, in addition to visiting your dentist at prescribed intervals for a professional cleaning and checkup, the likelihood of developing gum disease is reduced.
If you have uneven teeth, plaque, bacteria, and food debris that accumulates much more easily in the spaces between them, it makes it much more difficult to keep them clean. However, as previously stated, gum disease is unlikely to develop if you are diligent in brushing and flossing your teeth thoroughly, as well as visiting your dentist on a regular basis.
The Most Common Cause of Gum Disease
Whether you are experiencing a hormonal shift (perhaps a pregnancy), are a regular smoker, or take a prescription medication, gum disease is ultimately caused by the unimpeded development of bacteria and plaque in the mouth.
This is actually good news because it means that most of the time gum disease is easily prevented by a good oral hygiene routine. While the above-listed issues can increase the risk of gum disease (and make prevention more difficult), it is ultimately up to you whether it actually develops.
The best way to prevent gum disease is twice-daily brushing and flossing, and regular visits to your dentist for a professional cleaning (for most people, twice a year is should be sufficient).