According to the Canadian Dental Association, approximately seven in 10 Canadians will develop periodontal disease — gum disease — of some form during their lifetime. That’s an alarmingly high number for a condition that is entirely preventable, easily treatable if detected early, and so dangerous if left unchecked.
Here is everything that you need to know about the causes, stages, and symptoms of gum disease — also known as periodontal disease — and how to prevent it from developing and progressing.
Causes of gum disease
Gum disease is caused by the accumulation of plaque on your teeth that hardens into tartar unless removed constantly. Accumulated plaque and tartar are the perfect environment and fuel for bacteria that will, if left unchecked, infect the tissues and bones surrounding and supporting your teeth. Essentially, gum disease is caused by two factors: plaque and neglect.
Stages of gum disease
Periodontal disease comes in two broad stages, though the later stage is sometimes described as mild or advanced.
The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis. Gingivitis presents primarily as bleeding gums at its earliest stage. Gingivitis affects only your gums, and does not extend to your bone material. Gingivitis can, if detected early, generally be cured simply be re-focusing on and improving daily dental hygiene habits.
The second stage of periodontal disease is called periodontitis, and can present in a mild or advanced form. Mild periodontitis is also characterized by bleeding gums, but also presents with increased inflammation and the early stages of those gums receding — pulling down or back from the teeth with the results that “pockets” may begin to appear. The effects of mild periodontitis are, unlike its advanced form, still limited to your gums. As long as that is the case and before it becomes too advanced, it can still be reversed with a focus on oral hygiene at home and by your dentist.
Advanced periodontitis is a very different proposition. In its most advanced form, periodontitis damages both the gums and the bone tissue in your jaw that supports your teeth. At this stage, you will notice — in addition to bleeding and deepening gum pockets — loosening teeth and even teeth falling out. Unless bone tissue is restored through treatment, tooth extraction may be required.
Symptoms of gum disease
In addition to the stage-specific symptoms and presentations of periodontal disease described above, there are several symptoms of gum disease generally. The presence of this cluster of symptoms indicates the increasing risk of gingivitis and periodontitis and should prompt an immediate consultation with a dentist in Yellowknife. The cluster of gum disease-related symptoms include:
- Swollen, tender, and inflamed gums
- Bloody gums while flossing and brushing
- Receding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Pain when chewing
- Loose and sensitive teeth
How to prevent gum disease in Yellowknife
It was mentioned earlier just how alarming the prevalence of periodontal disease is, especially considering how easily it can be prevented. You’ll see just how easy below. There are four simple steps to preventing periodontal disease that can, if left unchecked, result in the loss of gum tissue, bone material, and teeth:
- Brush your teeth, gums, and even your tongue at least twice daily
- Floss or use an interdental brush to clean between every tooth at least once daily
- Rinse your mouth and teeth with antibacterial mouthwash after brushing and cleaning between your teeth
- Attend regular dental checkups twice annually, and professional teeth cleanings annually
Too many Canadians suffer from gingivitis, mild periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. All those conditions can be prevented with simple and careful attention to your oral health, and with a consistent partnership with your dentist in Yellowknife. If you’re concerned about or experiencing any symptoms of gum disease — at whatever stage — get in touch with a dentist near you without delay.