When plaque and bacteria build up on your teeth, they create an acidic environment that destroys tooth structure. Over time, this process can result in gum inflammation. The earliest stage of gum disease is called gingivitis and is completely reversible with professional treatment and good oral care at home. The later stage is periodontitis, which brings about bone loss around the roots of the teeth and can lead to loose teeth or tooth loss. In advanced cases, surgery may be needed.
Poor Dental Hygiene
If plaque is left on the teeth, it hardens into tartar. This cannot only cause gum disease but can also lead to tooth loss and cavities. It is important to brush twice a day for two minutes each time with fluoride toothpaste. A dentist can recommend additional products that can help with this.
Along with brushing regularly, it is important to visit the dentist at least twice a year for a professional cleaning and a deep cleaning if necessary. When visiting the dentist’s office, flossing daily is important as well. Flossing helps to remove food particles from between the teeth and along the gum line that can get trapped and cause damage over time.
If you’ve noticed that your parents and grandparents had gingivitis, you have an increased risk of getting gum disease yourself. However, it’s more likely you’ll develop just mild gingivitis than severe or advanced periodontitis. Plus, if you take care of your oral health, you can lower your risk of serious gum disease.
For example, one study showed that people who practiced good oral health routines were less likely to develop periodontal disease than those who didn’t practice good habits. And, if they developed the disease, it wasn’t as bad in those with good oral hygiene practices.
Another study looked at the bacteria in people’s mouths who had a history of gum problems as well as those who had a healthy mouth. The researchers discovered that the microbes that cause gum disease are more abundant in people with a family history of the illness. But, they didn’t discover a difference in the bacteria between people with healthy gums and those with a history of disease. So, you can still get gum disease even if no one in your family has had it before.
Both genetics and environmental factors influence the development of gum disease. But if you practice good oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly, you can help reduce your risk of the disease.
For many people, hormonal fluctuations are a fact of life. As women approach menopause, their body chemistry begins to undergo significant change. While hormone replacement therapy can help regulate these changes, it can also cause oral health problems of its own. In oral contraceptives, hormones are used to control fertility. While these medications can be effective at preventing pregnancy, they can also reduce saliva production and increase a patient’s risk of developing gum disease.
During puberty and pregnancy, there are additional hormonal changes that increase the risk for gum disease in women. A decrease in estrogen can slow the gums’ ability to heal after brushing and flossing, which can leave patients vulnerable to infection. For pregnant women, the additional progesterone in their system can cause swelling in their mouth, which can make it difficult to keep their teeth clean.
Certain medications, such as antihistamines and antidepressants, can contribute to gum disease. Antihistamines reduce the flow of saliva in your mouth, which dries out your mouth and gums. This increases your risk for tooth decay and gum disease, including gingivitis and periodontitis. Antidepressants can increase your risk of dry mouth as well. Talk to your doctor about medication side effects to learn more about how you can control these problems.
Research suggests that some autoimmune disorders are linked to gum disease and tooth loss. This suggests that there may be a connection between your oral health and overall physical health. The symptoms of these diseases include anemia and low white blood cell count. If you suffer from one of these diseases, be sure to let your dentist know so that she can assess your risk and help you maintain better oral health.
For more tips and comprehensive dental care, visit Stonewater Dentistry at 4450 N Tenaya Way, Suite 225, Las Vegas, NV 89129. Call us at (702) 734-5000 for appointments.