Gum disease (gingivitis) impacts millions of Americans each year. It is characterized by red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums and can eventually lead to tooth loss if left unchecked. Gingivitis occurs when there is plaque buildup, usually from a lack of proper dental care. Luckily, there are specific steps you can take to protect your mouth from this disease.
First, let’s address the full range of gingivitis symptoms so you can be on the lookout. Gum disease will often progress without pain, but there are a few obvious indicators that you have gum disease. These include:
- bleeding gums, particularly when you brush or floss your teeth
- red, tender, receding, or swollen gums
- shifting or loose teeth
- bad breath that won’t go away with proper dental care or mouth rinse
- alterations in how the teeth fit together when biting down
- the formation of extra space or ‘pockets’ between the gums and teeth
Remember, even without any of these symptoms you could still have gum disease. That is why regular dental check ups are so valuable in helping your dentist assess the health of your mouth.
What you can do
With proper plaque control, nearly all cases of gingivitis can be stopped. Plaque control includes professional teeth cleanings at least twice a year. In addition, daily flossing, brushing and rinsing need to be a top priority in your schedule. Brushing will get rid of surface plaque while flossing will reach food debris and plaque that get lodged between the teeth. Here’s what else you can do to help reduce your risk of gum disease:
- quit smoking
- diminish your stress level
- keep a proper diet
- stop clenching or grinding your teeth
Unfortunately, despite consistent oral hygiene habits, about 30% of Americans might be susceptible and genetically predisposed to gum disease. If you are likely to get gum disease, your dentist may recommend more regular checkups.