Gum disease is a serious concern for both adults and children. Also known as periodontitis, gum disease typically begins with a bacterial infection and inflammation of the gums that later affects the bone surrounding the teeth. If left untreated, gum disease could lead to tooth loss and other serious consequences. If you have swollen, inflamed, or puffy gums, this could be a sign of gum disease, gingivitis, or periodontitis.
Plaque: The Most Common Cause of Gum Disease
The most common cause of gum disease is the growth of plaque on the teeth. Bacteria cause plaque, a sticky, transparent film that builds up on the teeth. The bacteria associated with plaque and tartar can infect the gums and teeth, eventually weakening the bones and teeth.
Plaque can be effectively combatted with proper oral care and hygiene, including twice-daily tooth brushing, flossing, and regular professional cleanings from your local dentist. To keep your oral health in tip-top shape, contact Island Dental Associates today to book an appointment with our skilled Long Island dentists.
Millions of Americans have some type of gum disease, but if you act early, the damage is reversible. By making sure to brush twice a day, floss, and visit your dentist at least once every six months, you can take action to reduce plaque and protect your teeth and gums.
More Causes of Gum Disease
Plaque is not the only cause of gum disease. Smoking and chewing tobacco can also make you more vulnerable to gum disease, because both smoking and chewing tobacco can interfere with the cells of the gums, leaving you more vulnerable to a potential infection.
Women may also experience changes over time linked to hormonal shifts. During pregnancy, women may experience inflamed or puffy gums, and menstrual cycles and menopause can also have effects on gum health.
Medications can also affect oral health, especially as some prescription drugs tend to reduce the flow or production of saliva. Bacteria may spread more rapidly in the mouth when it is dry, leading to a greater threat of gum disease. Illnesses and treatments that weaken the immune system, like cancer and cancer treatments, diabetes, or HIV, can also leave the body at greater risk for infections, including gum disease.
Nutritional deficiencies can also lead to gum disease, especially if you are not getting enough vitamin C as part of your daily diet. Make sure to drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet for your overall health, including your oral health. In addition, if you have a history of gum disease in your family, you may be more prone to later bacterial infections.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
The most common symptoms of gum disease are red, swollen, or puffy gums. You may also notice bleeding while brushing or flossing. If you notice these symptoms of gum disease, call your Long Island dentists at Island Dental Associates to book an appointment for a cleaning or examination. There are other signs of gum disease, including the following:
- Dark or purple gums
- Tenderness or pain when touching your gums
- Easy gum bleeding when your mouth is dry or your gums are irritated
- Finding a pink or red toothbrush after brushing
- Bad breath
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Signs of pus between the gums and teeth
- Loose teeth
- Gums pulling back from your teeth or receding
- Pain or discomfort when chewing
Treat Gum Disease with Island Dental Associates
Gum disease not only affects your oral comfort and the appearance of your mouth, but it can also pose a threat to your overall health. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss, and it can also increase your risk of developing other medical problems, including heart disease and diabetes.
Visiting your dentist regularly for professional cleaning is a key part of treating and preventing gum disease. To make an appointment for a cleaning at our convenient Franklin Square office, contact Island Dental Associates at 516-271-0769.