Gum disease is a problem that can deteriorate over the years without the patient knowing of its existence. A person may already have gum disease, but not know of the problem until the time when the symptoms have already deteriorated into a more serious problem. Gum problems are mainly caused by poor oral hygiene. The natural bacteria present in the mouth can interact with food debris and sugars left after meal times, forming a film called plaque on the surface of teeth. If regular tooth brushing is not followed, this film can cause the breakdown of the teeth enamel and the gum structure, causing infection to set in the gums.
Gingivitis is gum disease in its early stage, and is the characterised by swollen and bleeding gums. It is crucial to treat the gum problem during its early stage so that it does not develop into periodontal disease. Periodontal disease or periodontitis is the more advanced stage of gum problem. Periodontitis occurs when the disease is not treated during its early stages; this problem will involve treatments that are more complicated, and more expensive to do.
Severe gum disease can cause tooth loss. Gum disease that is left untreated for years will worsen, and will damage the gums and the bone structure that support the teeth. If periodontitis is not treated, the teeth will become loose, and eventually fall off because the gums and bone structure will not be able to support the teeth anymore. The jawbone will suffer from further deterioration with the loss of natural teeth, since the tooth roots that stimulate the bone will be lost as well. As time goes by, the gums and the jawbone will become thinner without the stimulation from the tooth roots, which were lost along with the missing teeth.
To prevent the onset of gum disease, good oral hygiene starting with regular tooth brushing is important. The use of dental floss will also help remove food pieces and other debris on the surface of the gum line to avoid plaque and tartar buildup, and can reach areas that regular tooth brushing alone cannot get to. Going to the dentist for regular dental checkups and professional cleaning will also go a long way in preventing gum disease from developing or deteriorating. The dentist can detect gum disease in its earliest stages, and can give the appropriate treatment to prevent the problem from worsening.