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Tender, receding gums and other problems related to a gum infection show up all the time in dentists’ examinations. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis, is the source of many of those problems. A variety of factors increase a person’s risk of facing this common oral health condition. Fortunately, this condition is easy to treat if you and your dentist catch it early, though cosmetic dentistry procedures may be needed for some advanced cases. Preventative care and even some lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of getting this troublesome and potentially expensive oral hygiene issue.  

What is Gum Disease Exactly? 

This is a bacterial infection of the gums that can damage soft tissue and bone, if it continues untreated. Gum disease starts with a buildup of plaque on a person’s teeth. Gingivitis is a similar condition, also caused by a buildup of bacteria on the teeth. This plaque contains bacteria, some of which are harmless and some of which are a danger to teeth and gums. The risk increases when tartar and bacteria build up below the gum line, forming pockets. Those pockets give bacteria a place from which they can attack both gums and teeth, producing problems like receding gums, gaps between teeth, and loose teeth.  

Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting a dentist for regular cleanings minimizes the risk and make the infection easier to treat if it appears. Many factors make a person vulnerable to gum infections, but lifestyle factors play a huge role and account for most of the risk factors.  

What are the Risk Factors? 

A variety of health and lifestyle factors can increase a person’s risk of developing periodontitis and certain genetic traits may also increase your risk over time.  

  1. Poor oral hygiene  
  2. Medications 
  3. Tobacco use  
  4. Age 
  5. Poor nutrition 
  6. Clenching and grinding 
  7. Stress 

Poor oral hygiene is probably the single most common cause of this oral health issue. Tobacco use and poor nutrition are the other major lifestyle factors that increase a person’s risk of periodontitis. Smoking can discolor a person’s teeth, but chemicals in tobacco can also pose a real risk to teeth and gums. This is also true for smokeless tobacco. Obesity, which may be a result of genetics, lifestyle, or an underlying medical condition can also put a person at higher risk.  

Research suggests that some people may have a genetic predisposition to periodontal disease. Additionally, there are some underlying health conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Some drugs that people take to manage chronic health conditions can also affect oral health, as can oral contraceptives.  

Finally, anything that reduces your body’s ability to fight off an infection can increase your risk of gum disease. Chronic stress can suppress the immune system. Poor nutrition can make your immune system less capable of fighting off an infection too.  

Clenching and grinding your teeth may increase your vulnerability to periodontal disease by weakening the base of your teeth, which allows the disease to progress more rapidly.  

If you have those risk factors or have any of the symptoms described below, see a dentist. If you live in the Palmdale/Lancaster area, schedule a visit with a dentist in Lancaster. Smile Dental also has offices in East Lancaster and Palmdale.  

What are the Symptoms of Gum Disease? 

If your gums are healthy, they will be pink and fit close to the teeth. You will be able to brush and floss without causing your gums to bleed. So, bleeding and tender gums are two signs of periodontitis. Other common symptoms include: 

  • Bad breath 
  • Loose teeth 
  • Puffy gums that are white or purple 
  • Pus between teeth and gums 
  • Tenderness 
  • Painful chewing 
  • New space developing between teeth 
  • Gums receding and making teeth appear “longer” than before 

See your dentist as soon as these symptoms develop. Periodontal disease is treatable and reversible, but the longer you wait the more damage the bacteria can do. In extreme cases, tooth loss results from periodontitis. At this point, cosmetic dentistry becomes a necessity, to replace the lost tooth and prevent further bone loss.  

If your dental professional does find periodontal disease or gingivitis, they may proceed in two or three ways. The usual first step in dealing with these gum infections is to coach a patient on how to improve their oral care routine. If you smoke, your dentist may urge you to quit. If you do not floss much, your dentist will ask you to start. They may also do a deep dental cleaning at the base of your teeth and prescribe antibiotics.  

Gum Disease is Common but Preventable and Highly Treatable 

Regular visits to a dentist in Lancaster CA may be your single best defense against gum disease. If you have any of those symptoms, be sure to discuss them with your dentist and schedule a check-up as soon as possible. Keep in mind that in addition to dental cleanings in East Lancaster and West Lancaster, Smile Dental also offers cosmetic dentistry 

 

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