What is gum disease?

Let’s start at the beginning, with bacteria and other microorganisms colonizing around the base of the teeth. Gradually, inflammation causes gum tissue to separate from the tooth roots, creating a deep, infection-filled pocket. The infection can gradually spread to the bone, and begin eroding it. Eventually, the tooth can become loose and fall out. Gum disease is progressive, but it can be stopped, and the sooner it is treated the better. Your risk may be high or low, but no one is immune. In fact, unless you’ve been given a clean bill of health be your dentist recently, you could have gum disease and not even know it, because the symptoms are so subtle.

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Symptoms of gum disease

The signs of disease are easily overlooked, and often mistaken for “normal.” Even more concerning, the true damage is occurring painlessly, beneath the surface. As bacteria invade first the gums and then the bone, it destroys tissue. Without treatment, it can cause teeth to loosen and become infected, eventually requiring extraction (or falling out). Additionally, evidence suggests that the effects of your immune system battling this chronic infection may be harmful. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease and other serious health concerns.

It is advisable to be aware of the following symptoms, and see a dentist promptly if they develop:

  • Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
  • Puffy or tender gums
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Pus or other signs of infection around your teeth
  • Receding gum line

Minimizing your risk

Anyone, even children, can get gum disease. However, some people are far more likely to develop it than others are. If you are at high risk Dr. Dietrich may recommend measures such as more frequent dental cleanings or using antiseptic mouthwash. Additionally, many risk factors can be reduced or eliminated.

  • Age – The older you are, the more likely you are to develop gum disease. Taking extra care with oral hygiene and maintaining good health can help.
  • Health – Many conditions such as diabetes can increase your risk of oral disease. Be sure to talk to Dr. Dietrich about steps you can take to protect your oral health.
  • Tobacco – If you smoke or chew, stop.
  • Nutrition – Foods rich in vitamins and antioxidants boost your immunity, and poor nutrition can increase the risk of infections including gum disease.
  • Hygiene – Neglecting oral hygiene is the fastest way to increase your risk.

Call (708) 576-1900 and schedule a cleaning and checkup with Dr. Dietrich today.

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