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Dentist explaining what dental cavity looks

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is entirely preventable. Still, nearly half of all American adults have some form of it. Are you at risk of developing gum disease? Could you already have it and not know it yet? Learn what to watch for and how to treat gum disease with these tips.

What is Gum Disease?

The earliest stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis, is mild and reversible. It occurs when bacteria-filled plaque builds up on the teeth and along the gum line. If you don’t catch and treat gingivitis, it can progress to a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. Pockets form as the gums separate from the teeth, allowing more bacteria and plaque to accumulate. Without intervention, periodontitis can destroy supporting bone tissue, causing teeth to shift, loosen, or fall out.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Everyone has oral bacteria that can lead to plaque buildup and gum irritation. The key to preventing periodontal disease is to know what puts you at risk. Here are the factors most likely to cause this condition:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Skipping dentist visits
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Heredity
  • Hormone changes
  • Underlying immune deficiencies

Warning Signs of Gum Disease

While you should schedule routine dental visits even if your mouth feels healthy, be sure to schedule an appointment right away if you notice these warning signs of gum disease:

  • Red, swollen, tender gums
  • Receding gum line or pockets forming between the teeth and gums
  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
  • Dull pain when chewing
  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth

How Gum Disease Affects Your Overall Health

A strong correlation exists between gum disease and several other illnesses. Consider the oral-systemic connection and what it can mean for your overall health:

  • Gum disease increases the risk of heart disease.
  • Diabetes patients are more likely to develop gum disease, and gum disease worsens existing diabetes.
  • Gum disease may spur the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Breathing bacteria from gum disease may cause respiratory infections.
  • Gum disease causes chronic inflammation, raising the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Pregnant women with gum disease have a higher risk of premature birth and low birth weight.

Gum Disease Treatment

Start treating periodontal disease the moment you notice signs of gingivitis. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Brush twice a day and floss daily.
  • Visit the dentist every six months for professional teeth cleaning.
  • Begin a periodontitis maintenance plan with your dental hygienist. This consists of “scaling” to remove tartar from above and below the gum line and “root planing” to discourage future plaque deposits.

If you think you might have gum disease or want to prevent getting it, visit Beyond Dentistry Laser Center. Our dental services can help protect your smile and promote overall good health. To schedule an appointment with our Brooklyn dentist, please call us at 718-436-0202 or contact us online.