Gum Disease: What Causes It and How Can You Treat It?

Posted on July 26th, 2022 at 2:46 PM
Gum Disease: What Causes It and How Can You Treat It?

Nearly half of adults who are 30 years old and older will experience some form of gum disease during their lifetimes. 

Early-stage gum disease is perfectly preventable and curable, so it’s important to make sure you know how to recognize it and get it taken care of before it becomes worse.

If you ever experience symptoms of gum disease, go see a dentist right away to get it treated and prevent further complications. 

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a term for two types of infections that cause your gums to become red, swollen, and sore. The condition can also cause your gums to bleed when brushing your teeth, eating certain foods, or randomly. 

Symptoms of gum disease:

  • Bleeding of gums when you brush or floss your teeth
  • Gums bleeding when you eat certain hard foods
  • Painful, swollen gums
  • Red gums accompanied by tenderness and soreness

If left unattended, gum disease can cause bad breath that won’t go away and start to shrink your gums (causing them to pull back from your teeth). If you don’t treat gum disease at all, it can cause your teeth to become loose and fall out.

The two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis

Gingivitis and periodontitis, also known as periodontal disease, are the two types of gum disease that can infect your mouth.

Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease. It occurs when plaque (a type of oral bacteria) accumulates between your teeth and gums. This buildup of bacteria causes your gums to become inflamed and they can easily bleed when you brush your teeth or eat something hard, like an apple.

Periodontitis is a more advanced form of gum disease. If you don’t treat gingivitis when you experience symptoms, it can turn into periodontitis. At this stage of the disease, your gums can start to begin pulling away from your teeth, which creates spaces called gum pockets that can get infected further.

Eventually, periodontitis leads to your teeth shifting and loosening. This often results in tooth loss. In fact, periodontal gum disease in adults is the number one reason for adult tooth loss.

What causes gum disease?

Gum disease in children and adults is caused by a lack of proper oral hygiene. While it’s normal for our mouths to be full of bacteria, regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings get rid of the plaque build ups that lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease.

So, if you don’t stick to a good oral hygiene routine, it’s easy to start experiencing symptoms of gingivitis, no matter what age you are.

There are other risk factors that can make you more prone to gum disease, including smoking, which is the biggest risk factor. 

People with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, or people on certain medications, are more prone to gum infections. Hormonal changes and poor nutrition can also increase the chances of gum disease.

Preventing and Treating Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Gum disease prevention

The best way to prevent gum disease in children and adults is to brush and floss your teeth regularly, using good technique (which a dentist can show you how to do). 

Using antibacterial mouthwash between cleanings also helps get rid of bacteria that can cause gum infections.

Last, but certainly not least, regular dental checkups and cleanings are also very important. Make sure to get your teeth and gums inspected and cleaned every six months. 

A dentist will also be able to spot early signs of gum infections that you may not have noticed yet, so you can treat it before it gets any worse.

Oral hygiene tips:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time
  • Floss between your teeth daily
  • Use antibacterial mouthwash between brushing and flossing
  • Get routine dental checkups and cleaning every six months
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Quit smoking

Treating gum disease

Treating gingivitis is fairly simple since it is a very early form of infection. It’s just a matter of following a good dental hygiene routine of brushing and flossing your teeth and rinsing your mouth with antibacterial mouthwash regularly. 

If you experience persistent symptoms of gingivitis, it’s a good idea to see your dentist for a checkup and cleaning as soon as possible, even if you aren’t due for one yet.

With proper oral hygiene, gingivitis symptoms should go away within a couple of weeks, though it may take longer for more severe cases. 

It’s also important to note that gingivitis can come and go, especially if your oral hygiene habits change. So, just because you aren’t experiencing symptoms anymore, it doesn’t mean you should let your brushing and flossing habits slide!

Since periodontitis is a more advanced form of gum disease, treatment is a little more complicated. As with gingivitis, you need to really focus on your oral hygiene. You will also need to get your dentist to perform a deep cleaning of your teeth and gums.

Deep cleaning removes plaque and tartar from between your teeth and gums, which can allow the gums to start reattaching to the teeth.

In more serious cases of periodontal disease, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics and, as a last resort, perform surgery to clean the roots of your teeth and reduce the size of the gum pockets.

Keep Your Gums Disease Free with the Best Dental Care From Dr. Kevin Mahoney

Symptoms of gum disease can be painful and scary, but remember that they are treatable and preventable. 

Dr. Kevin Mahoney can provide regular dental cleanings to keep your gums infection free. 

If you’re experiencing symptoms of gingivitis or periodontitis, schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible to diagnose and treat your case.

For those with any level of dental anxiety or dental phobia, we offer the best sleep dentistry treatments to make you perfectly comfortable during cleanings or any other procedures.

Contact us today for more information about our sleep dentistry services or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mahoney.

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