What Causes Gum Disease?

What Causes Gum Disease?

Team Periodontics

Gum disease, known as periodontal disease in dentistry, is a common oral health issue affecting nearly 80% of Americans. Not every case is severe, but without early detection and treatment, it can become serious. With such a high percentage of people affected, it bears the question: what causes gum disease? 

Gum Disease is an Infection 

Gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. When the bacteria in your mouth become overpopulated and begin settling into the small cracks and crevices in your mouth, it can lead to infection. As with most bacterial infections, it starts out mild but worsens without treatment. 

What Causes the Infection? 

Why do the bacteria in your mouth become overpopulated? There are a few potential causes, but the most common is poor oral hygiene. You probably know that dentists recommend brushing and flossing your teeth daily. The purpose of this is to remove plaque from your teeth. Plaque is a combination of food residue and bacteria that forms a sticky film that clings to your teeth. When the plaque is not removed by regular, effective brushing and flossing, it can harden into calculus, which is more difficult to remove. 

As plaque clings to the teeth and settles in for a long enough period of time, the bacteria reach a certain level of maturity that causes them to be more harmful to the gum tissue. An infection can easily develop at this stage. 

Symptoms of Gum Disease

How do you know if you have gum disease? Here are some common symptoms to look for:

  • Red or swollen gum tissue. 
  • Bleeding gums.  
  • Bad breath.
  • Gums oozing pus or developing an abscess. 
  • Loose or dislodged teeth. 

The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. At this point you may only have slightly red gum tissue or mild bleeding. As the condition progresses to full-blown gum disease, or periodontitis, your symptoms may worsen. 

How is Gum Disease Treated?

The first step in treating gum disease is to remove plaque and calculus from the crown portion of the teeth, the part that extends above the gum line. Dentists use special tools to scrape away plaque and calculus so that the bacteria causing the infection is removed. If plaque has formed on the roots of the teeth under the gums, a procedure called scaling is used to remove it. 

The next step is called root planing, which smooths the surface of the roots so that the gums can reattach more effectively. Once this has been done the infection will start to clear up. In some cases an antibiotic may be prescribed to treat the infection. 

Preventing Gum Disease

To prevent gum disease from coming back or from occuring in the first place, do the following: 

  • Brush your teeth twice a day. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. Brushing your teeth at night removes the food and plaque that settles on your teeth throughout the day. Brushing in the morning is best to do after you eat breakfast. 
  • Floss your teeth once a day. Dentists recommend flossing once a day to remove plaque from in between your teeth and in the spaces between the teeth and gums. 
  • Go to the dentist every 6 months. Brushing and flossing can’t remove all of the plaque from your teeth, no matter how thorough you are. Regular cleanings by your dentist help to remove the plaque that is missed. It is recommended that you go to the dentist every 6 months, unless your dentist recommends cleanings more often. 
  • See the dentist right away if you have symptoms. If you have mild symptoms, such as a little blood when you brush your teeth, call your dentist to schedule an appointment. Stopping gum disease in the early stages prevents it from getting worse and causing serious dental problems. 

Treat and Prevent Gum Disease With Help From Paramount Dental Arts

A combination of professional dental care and good oral hygiene habits at home is the best way to maintain your oral health. You can keep gum disease from developing by taking care of your teeth at home daily and going to the dentist for preventative care every 6 months. Paramount Dental Arts can help you avoid gum disease when you see us regularly. 

Call 973-777-1772 today to schedule or request an appointment.