In Canadian adults, gum disease is fairly common and it often develops as a result of poor dental hygiene habits. In this blog, our Manitoba dentists discuss the reasons why poor oral hygiene causes gum diseases and what you can do to prevent it.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease can also be called periodontal disease and it's an infection within the teeth' supporting bone and soft tissues. When your dentist discusses gingivitis, they are referring to gum disease in its mildest or most moderate forms when it's only affecting the soft tissues.
When the disease becomes more advanced it starts infecting the supporting structures and bones of the teeth. If this goes too long without treatment it can eventually lead to tooth loss.
The Causes of Gum Disease
There is a handful of factors that can increase your risk of getting gum disease, such as bacteria and plaque buildup in the mouth, smoking, hormonal shifts, some prescription medications, nutritional deficiencies, genetics, and uneven teeth.
If your gums are bleeding it could be a sign that you have gum disease, so you should immediately schedule an appointment with your dentist if you have bleeding gums. Your mouth also contains millions of bacteria, which you need to disrupt with excellent oral hygiene every day.
If you leave the bacteria undisrupted for too long, your body will try to rid itself of it by sending more blood to your gums. The excess blood can lead to swelling, soreness, bleeding, and redness. Your body thinks it has an infection - this is called gingivitis, and it won't heal until the source of infection is eliminated.
Bacteria can be found in plaque, tartar, or calculus, pockets beneath the gums (in cases of advanced gum disease), cavities, abscesses, and chipped teeth. They may also hide in old dental work, as repairs to your teeth create an edge or margin that bacteria can adhere to.
Ways to Avoid Gum Disease
There aren't any specific 'tips and tricks' you can implement to prevent gum disease. The best way to avoid developing gum disease is to maintain good oral hygiene habits, plain and simple.
Not one of the above-listed factors alone can cause gum disease. If you maintain a rigorous and thorough oral hygiene routine, it will be very difficult for gum disease to take hold.
For example, while you may be prone to plaque buildup (perhaps due to genetics), as long as you brush and floss your teeth twice a day and visit your dentist as prescribed for regular professional cleanings and checkups, chances are that gum disease will not be able to fully develop.
Whether a pregnancy causes a hormonal shift, you take prescription medication, or are a regular smoker, the most common cause of gum disease is the unimpeded development of bacteria and plaque in the mouth.
Most of the time, gum disease can be easily prevented with a good oral hygiene routine. While the issues listed above can increase your risk (and make prevention more challenging), whether it actually develops comes down to the decisions you make every day about your oral health practices.