Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) occurs when bacteria buildup in the mouth causes swelling, irritation, and bleeding of the gums. Gum disease is also the leading cause of tooth loss.
When gum disease is left untreated, it can progress to the point where the jawbone and gums actually begin breaking down. When this happens, the teeth can become loose and eventually fall out.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease can be triggered by any of the following:
Smoking: Tobacco is a major risk factor for gum disease. In fact, smokers are six times more likely than nonsmokers to develop gum disease. This is because smoking interferes with the immune system’s ability to fight off infection. It can also decrease blood flow to the gums, which increases the risk of gum disease.
Poor oral hygiene: Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly is important for maintaining oral health. However, if you don’t practice proper oral hygiene, it can leave plaque and bacteria on the teeth and gums. This buildup leads to gum disease.
Certain medications: Drugs that interfere with saliva production, such as antidepressants and decongestants, can increase your risk of developing gum disease. Talk to your doctor to see if any of your medications put you at risk.
Genetics: Some people are simply predisposed to gum disease.
Hormonal changes: Hormones can affect oral health by increasing inflammation and causing dry mouth. If you’re going through puberty, pregnancy, menopause, or andropause, you are more likely to experience gum disease.
Poor nutrition: Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, can increase your risk for gum disease.
Fortunately, gum disease is treatable. If you have signs of gum disease, such as tender gums, bleeding, and bad breath, make an appointment with your dentist.
Gum disease is best treated when it is diagnosed early. That’s why you should visit our office for routine cleanings twice each year. Scaling and root planing is the common procedure used to treat mild forms of gum disease. When gum disease is more advanced, we will recommend periodontal surgery.
How Can You Prevent Gum Disease?
The best way to prevent gum disease is by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day. You should also come to see us for regular cleanings to keep your mouth free of plaque and tartar.
You should also limit your consumption of sugary or acidic foods and drinks. These foods feed the bacteria in your mouth and cause them to grow and multiply, leading to plaque buildup and cavities.
Please schedule an appointment online or call us at (503) 581-2446 to consult with our dentist, Dr. Giruc, and we will be happy to assist you further.