If you have noticed your gums becoming red, swollen or inflamed, you may be experiencing gum disease. Gum disease arises when your gums pull away from your teeth after becoming infected or inflamed. There are a variety of conditions that can bring on gingivitis, including smoking, aging, poor diet, hormonal fluctuations (like puberty, pregnancy), heredity, diabetes, stress and even some medications.
In the beginning and mildest stages of gum disease (gingivitis), you might notice red, swollen gums, but no discomfort or pain. Gingivitis is easily treated with good daily oral hygiene–a thorough brushing and flossing routine to clear plaque away, and seeing your dentist for cleanings to remove hardened plaque. Plaque is the sticky bacterial film that coats the teeth and gums and causes gum disease.
Advanced gingivitis, or periodontitis, happens when the bacteria in plaque grows below the gum line, leaving behind toxins from the bacteria which irritate the gums. This causes inflammation and the tissues and bones that support the teeth break down and are destroyed. This is when pockets form between the teeth and gums where the gums have pulled away from the teeth. As the bacteria inflames and infects the gum tissue, it causes them to recede (pull away) from the teeth. Eventually this inflammation causes the teeth to become loose and may even need to be removed.
Gum disease can be prevented with diligent oral care and regular dental cleanings to prevent the buildup of plaque and provide necessary treatment. Eat a healthy diet, avoid smoking and tobacco use, and your gums will reward you with a healthy smile. If you have any questions or concerns, please call our staff at Smiles Dental at 360.200.6995 today!