Are your gums healthy? Before you answer that question, you might want to check with your dentist. This simple fact is, without a professional diagnosis, most people don’t know that they have gum disease until it has already done serious damage. Without treatment, this insidious infection can lead to the loss of natural teeth along with a host of other health concerns.

Types of gum disease

There are two classifications of gum disease:

  • Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease, which is often the result of neglected oral hygiene. There is rarely any pain associated with gingivitis. The most common symptoms include swelling or discoloration of the gum tissue, as well as bleeding when you are brushing your teeth. Unfortunately, many people overlook these subtle signs of trouble.
  • Periodontitis is advanced gum disease. It occurs when plaque spreads below the gumline, producing toxins, which irritate the gums. This process triggers a reaction known as chronic inflammatory response, a process that breaks down the gum and bone tissues. Gradually, the gingival tissue pulls away from the teeth, creating deep pockets where infection sets in. The longer it goes without treatment, the deeper the pockets become, and the more tissue is destroyed. Eventually, teeth become loose as the bone tissue erodes, and they can fall out. Even at this stage, symptoms continue to be mild and often painless.
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Prevention and treatment

Poor hygiene is one of the leading causes of gum disease. Does that mean it is your own fault if you are afflicted? No! To begin with, Dr. Dietrich doesn’t lecture his patients. Even if you have a history of neglecting your teeth, you can’t turn back time and change the fact. What’s important is that you do what you can now and in the future to protect your mouth and overall health. Furthermore, hygiene is just one of many factors that can increase your risk. Although it is far less likely, even a person with excellent hygiene habits can get gum disease. Other risk factors include:

  • Diseases such as diabetes or HIV
  • Habits such as smoking
  • Malocclusion (crooked teeth)
  • Family history
  • Malnutrition
  • Hormonal changes, such as those experienced during puberty or pregnancy

The good news is that gum disease is generally treatable until the very late stages. The bad news is that damage will become progressively worse until you seek treatment. Don’t delay – call Pleasant Dental® at (708) 576-1900 and schedule an appointment today.

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