Keeping your gums healthy is crucial for your overall dental health – along with your jawbones the gums hold teeth firmly in place and protect below-the-gum line tooth surfaces that lack the protective enamel. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums, caused by a buildup of plaque – a sticky form of bacteria that forms on the teeth. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, but because the condition is often virtually pain free, many patients do not realize they suffer from it.
Regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations during which your dentist checks for signs of periodontal disease are important for maintaining the health of your gums and teeth and preventing the periodontal disease from developing. By practicing good oral hygiene at home, you can significantly reduce your chances of getting gum disease. Remember to brush regularly, clean between your teeth, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits to help keep your smile healthy.
Brushing and flossing carefully helps remove the plaque before the salts in saliva act to harden it into calculus, a rough substance if left unchecked, continues to build up, irritating the gums and interfering with the seal between the gums and the teeth.
Gum disease often progresses painlessly, producing few obvious signs, even in the late stages of the disease. However, while it is possible to have periodontal disease and not know it, because the symptoms can be quite subtle, the condition is not entirely without warning signs. Certain tell-tale symptoms such as red, irritated, swollen, bleeding or receding gums, breath odor or loose teeth, may point to some form of gum disease that calls for a periodontal treatment.