Your gums are important for the health of your teeth and your entire body. Gum disease a very real problem that can have a dramatic effect on your life. Gum disease usually occurs in stages and starts with a condition known as gingivitis. You should know what gingivitis is, the signs of periodontal disease and the ways to prevent it.
What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a type of gum disease. It is one of the mildest forms of it. This problem starts when sugars and starches collect into layers on your teeth called plaque. The plaque becomes a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Plaque will eventually spread up into your gums where it can harden into tartar deposits. The bacteria can then start to infect your gums. The signs of periodontal disease are similar to those for gingivitis in some cases. Many people live with gingivitis without realizing that anything is wrong.
The Relationship between Gum Disease and Gingivitis
Something to understand is that gingivitis can progress into full-blown periodontal disease if action is not taken. The tartar that forms and the bacteria will continue to grow. Small pockets will appear in the gums where bacteria can grow unabated. The bacteria release endotoxins that cause a range of problems. This will lead to infections, tooth decay and potentially tooth loss over time. You should know some of the main signs of gum disease.
One of the clearest gum disease symptoms is discoloration. Your gums are supposed to be a very light pinkish color when they are healthy. Gum disease will cause the tissue to become bright red. They might even turn purple if the condition is not treated. This is a sign that a serious bacterial infection is occurring.
Another symptom is swollen gums. This occurs when the gum tissue reacts to the endotoxins the bacteria are creating. Swollen gums will appear puffy and might feel bloated in your mouth. You might even notice the gum line changes shape while swollen. If your gums are swelling on a regular basis, then you need to see a dentist.
Sensitivity is one of the most common symptoms of gum disease and gingivitis. The sensitivity is typically caused by inflammation. If you touch sensitive gums, then you are going to feel discomfort or pain. A dull aching might occur from time to time even when the gums are not touched. Advanced cases of periodontal disease usually start to make it painful just to bite down when eating something.
Receding Gum Line
Bacteria will start to destroy your gums and even the bone tissue of your teeth. This causes a receding gum line to appear. Your gums will look like they are pulling away from your teeth. Your teeth will start to look long and new areas will be exposed that could be discolored. A receding gum line is one of the most serious signs of gum disease.
Gaps Start To Appear Between Teeth
The changes that are occurring because of the gum disease will slowly shift the position of your teeth as tissue is inflamed or destroyed. The result will be gaps appearing between your teeth. These gaps will make it easier for more bacteria to get into your gums. The gaps might be small at first although they will grow if nothing is done.
Advanced gum disease can lead to bleeding. The most common time when your gums will bleed is while brushing your teeth. Your gums might also bleed briefly when eating. If the problem is very serious, then your gums might bleed randomly during the day.
Constant Bad Breath or Tastes
The bacteria and endotoxins in your mouth are going to start to cause strange odors. People with gum disease often have chronic bad breath because of the constant presence of the bacteria. Additionally, you might also notice strange or off tastes in your mouth for no real reason.
Preventing or Reversing Gum Disease
Periodontal disease can have serious consequences such as pain, loss of your teeth or permanent discoloration. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent or reverse this problem. You should start taking steps as soon as you notice any of the signs of gingivitis or any gum disease symptoms. A few things can prevent or possibly reverse gum disease if done early enough.
Brushing and Flossing
The single most important step to take is brushing and flossing every day. Brush two to three times a day preferably after meals. Brush for a minimum of two to three minutes. Rinse if you cannot brush. Floss at least once a day. Brushing and flossing removes the plaque that starts the entire process leading to gum disease. You will also be removing excess bacteria.
Keep Your Mouth Moist
Bacteria thrive in the sticky environment of a dry mouth. This is because a dry mouth does not contain enough saliva to protect the teeth and rinse away bacteria. You want to keep your mouth moist during the day. This involves drinking water regularly. A moist mouth will slow down the growth of bacteria. Drinking water also potentially removes debris on and between your teeth that could be home to bacterial colonies.
Avoid Bad Lifestyle Habits
Some lifestyle habits will contribute to the development of gum disease. You want to avoid smoking or second-hand smoke whenever possible. The smoke will weaken your tissue, change your blood flow and make it easier for bacteria to get into your gums. Similarly, avoid drinking too much alcohol because this weakens your immune system and wears down your teeth.
Avoid Eating Sugary, Starchy or Sticky Foods
You want to avoid eating sugary, starchy or sticky foods whenever you can. These foods will cause plaque to form on your teeth. They feed bacteria and make the problem worse once tartar forms. You should include these foods as little as possible in your diet. This can stop gum disease from ever forming.
Eat a Nutritious Diet
You should be eating a nutritious diet every. You want to eat fruits and vegetables to remove plaque, strengthen your gums and give your body the vitamins necessary to stay healthy. A good diet is important because it will strengthen your immune system. This helps you to fight off infections in the gums caused by bacteria.
See Your Dentist Annually
A final step is to see your dentist annually. You need to see a dentist for a full examination. Your dentist will clean your teeth during this time removing bacteria from areas that are difficult to reach. If periodontal disease or gingivitis is detected, then your dentist can start treatments or take steps to restore your gums to a healthy state.