Calls for proper oral hygiene have always been present in our minds, ever since we were little. From our parents’ constant “Go brush your teeth” reminders to awareness programs, oral hygiene’s significance cannot be overstated. The catchphrase “Brush your teeth every day to keep the dentist away” could not be more evident on the consequences of poor oral hygiene.
However, as much as we try to keep our teeth and their health under control, oral hygiene is by no means a walk in the park. Diligence and proper brushing techniques are paramount for healthy teeth and gums. With the absence of these two key ingredients come dental issues, especially in the gums. For that reason, we are taking today’s blog to discuss how poor oral hygiene can lead to gum disease, a genuine matter of concern for our dental health, as well as its causes, symptoms, and manifestations through gingivitis and its more severe version, periodontitis.
Here at Loudoun Orthodontics, our approach towards oral hygiene is all-encompassing. We believe that all aspects of dental health are intertwined, regardless of the practitioner who treats them. As such, although they are not the go-to physicians for treating gum disease, orthodontists call for proper oral hygiene in case you are considering orthodontic treatment. Without proper oral hygiene, your orthodontic treatment results are in jeopardy from the start, leading in severe cases to early removal of braces. Let’s tune in to the blog and learn how to keep gum disease at bay!
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease usually springs from poor brushing techniques and a sloppy tooth brushing schedule. In these conditions, plaque finds the perfect environment to accumulate itself on your teeth. If left unchecked, plaque hardens itself and turns into tartar, the hard, calcified coat that covers your teeth and gums. Within the tartar layer, bacteria will find it easy to run amok and attack and infect the tissues and the tooth’s supporting structure. As such, if you notice a porous, naturally darker layer on your teeth and gums, you are probably dealing with tartar buildup. This moment would be perfect for you to receive a referral to a periodontist (gum specialist) and get to the root of the problem right away.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Aside from the tartar buildup that we have discussed earlier, some other clues can betray gum disease as well, including:
- Receding gums
- Constant blood flow from the gums while brushing or flossing
- Tender, swollen and inflamed gums
Other less ordinary symptoms can represent gum disease signs as well, including:
- Bad breath
- Pain associated with chewing
- Loose teeth
Any of the symptoms mentioned above constitute a cause for concern, whether for gingivitis, periodontitis, or another dental issue. Make sure that you contact your dentist at the first sign of such symptoms.
The Two Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease manifests itself differently from patient to patient. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, patients can suffer from either gingivitis or periodontitis, the latter being the second stage of the former. Let’s discuss both forms of gum disease in detail:
Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease, a more mild manifestation that causes inflammation and bleeding in the gums. This non-destructive periodontal disease type is primarily limited to the gum tissue without extending to the bone material. The limited effect of gingivitis allows the patient to use proper brushing and flossing as gingivitis treatment.
Most patients are unaware of the fact that gingivitis affects their gums. Two types of gingivitis are the usual culprits:
- Dental plaque-induced gingival disease, with plaque and tartar buildup as leading causes.
- Non-plaque-induced gingival disease, with bacteria, fungi, viruses, or genetic factors as leading causes.
In either case, failure to address the gingivitis signs can lead to the second, a more severe manifestation of gum disease, called periodontitis.
Periodontitis is the second stage of gum disease with more severe symptoms than gingivitis. When suffering from periodontitis, you will notice the same bleeding gums and inflammation but with early stages of receding gums. This process will gradually reveal the roots of your teeth, allowing bacteria to attack and cause more severe infections.
While mild periodontitis symptoms ask for nothing else than proper dental hygiene as a remedy, advanced periodontitis is a whole other deal. This advanced stage of the disease causes the teeth to loosen and eventually fall out or fail. Without the help of a periodontist whose expertise can restore the bone tissue, tooth extraction may be the sole solution.
How Is Gum Disease Diagnosed?
Have you noticed any of the symptoms mentioned above? Then a dental exam might be the next step for you, during which your dentist will ascertain the inflammation and other gum issues with a small ruler. Furthermore, they will also propose X-rays to check the damage to the bone tissue.
Disclosing every symptom to your dentist is crucial for a well-planned treatment. Depending on your gingivitis/periodontitis severity, your dentist will likely refer you to a periodontist for a more specialized opinion.
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How to Prevent Gum Disease
As you could see, gum disease develops in small steps: first comes the plaque, then tartar, then, before you know it, bacteria attack the roots of your teeth. However, you can avoid this outcome by simply committing to basic oral hygiene measures:
- Tooth, gum, and tongue brushing at least twice a day
- Thoroughly flossing between teeth after meals
- Rinsing the oral cavity with an antibacterial mouthwash
- Creating a biannual routine check-up schedule with your dentist
With such measures in place, you will surely keep gum disease in check and enjoy superior oral health! If you have more questions concerning the oral health subject, make sure that you contact the Loudoun Orthodontics team or check out our blog.