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Oral Hygiene: Gum Disease

Oral Hygiene: Gum Disease

In the morning after you brush your teeth you notice there is a little blood in the sink or on your toothbrush. You don’t think this is anything that should concern you. According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), that isn’t true. Bleeding gums are something you should be concerned about. You should schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately. Your dentist can examine your teeth and determine the cause. If you have a good oral hygiene routine and visit your dentist regularly, it may turn out to be nothing serious. On the other hand, a little blood while you are brushing your teeth can be an early sign of gum disease.

Your oral hygiene routine is an important part of preventing gum disease. If you already have gingivitis, your dentist can help treat early forms of the disease and gingivitis can often be reversed. Here is an explanation about oral hygiene and gum disease.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection in the tissues that surround your teeth. Plaque in your mouth begins to grow below your gum line and causes gum disease.

Plaque is a sticky film that coats your teeth. Bacteria in your mouth combining with sugars and carbohydrates in food creates an acid that eats away at the enamel on your teeth. If the plaque isn’t removed by proper oral hygiene and dental cleanings, it creeps under your gums and creates toxins that irritate the tissues.  These toxins cause an infection, and this infection leads to gum disease

Gingivitis and Periodontitis are two forms of gum disease. Gingivitis is the mildest form. If caught early enough it can be treated and reversed. If left untreated, gingivitis can become worse and lead to Periodontitis.

Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease. It can cause serious health problems. When gingivitis is left untreated, the infection can grow and spread into other areas of your mouth, including down into your jawbone. The toxins in the infection can break down the surrounding tissues and bone. This infection can weaken your gums causing your teeth to become loose or fall out. The infection can also make daily tasks such as eating and talking difficult.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease?

The first signs of gum disease are often red and swollen gums. When you brush your teeth, they may bleed easily. Usually, with the early stages of gingivitis, there is little to no pain, although your gums may feel tender when touched.

As the gum disease progresses, your gum line may begin to recede. Your teeth may become loose or start to move away from each other. Another common symptom is persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth. If you wear partial dentures when your gums become swollen from gum disease your dentures may not fit properly anymore.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Smiling woman showing her teeth and gumsThe main cause of gum disease is cavities. The tooth decay that causes cavities is often due to poor oral hygiene. Smoking and using chewing tobacco are not only bad for your overall health but can also lead to gum disease. Other risk factors in gum disease include having teeth that are difficult to get in between to clean, being pregnant, having diabetes, and having other family members with oral health issues.

Some prescription medications can cause problems with your gums, such as swelling and tenderness. These medications can include steroids, oral contraceptives, cancer therapy drugs, some anti-seizure medications, and other types of drugs. You should ask your doctor if any medications you are taking can cause problems with your mouth or gums.

How to Prevent Gum Disease

If treated early, gum disease can be stopped or even reversed. Treatment and prevention steps include a good oral hygiene routine that consists of brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing, and rinsing with a dental rinse once a day. Visiting your dentist twice a year for check-ups and cleanings will help ensure any signs of gum disease are diagnosed by your dentist early enough for proper intervention.

A professional dental office, such as Signature Dental (a dental office in Richardson, Texas), can give you a full examination of your teeth and gums to determine if you are at risk for – or already have – gum disease. A dental office with trained dental staff can explain to you the causes, symptoms, and treatments for gingivitis and periodontitis. They can help you understand how oral hygiene affects gum disease.

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Dr. May Yeap

Dr. May Yeap

Dr. May Yeap received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Texas A&M University. She then attended Baylor College of Dentistry, where she graduated with a D.D.S. Dedicated to excellence in her field, Dr. Yeap attends continuing education in dentistry on a regular basis. Areas of additional training include restoration of dental implants and cosmetic dentistry.

Dr. May Yeap

Dr. May Yeap

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Dr. May Yeap

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