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What is Gum Disease by Carly Weis

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Gum disease, also known as gingivitis or periodontal disease, starts off as bacterial growth in your mouth, and if it is not treated can lead to tooth loss and damage to the surrounding tissue.  The first stage is known as gingivitis, and this is when the gums become inflamed due to plaque buildup and causes the gums to bleed easily when being brushed. Plaque builds up on the teeth and if not cleaned properly on a daily basis it will turn into tartar. Only a professional can clean tarter off of your teeth. No permanent damage to the bone or tissue has occurred at this point. When gingivitis goes untreated then it can develop into periodontitis. This occurs when the inner layer of the bone and gum detaches from the tooth. This will cause air pockets to develop between the teeth and the gums. Bacteria forms in these spaces and cause bone loss and can loosen teeth to the point of falling out. Examples of the warning signs of gum diseases are bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth that you can not get rid of, red/swollen gums, bleeding gums, painful chewing, loose teeth, sensitive teeth, and a change in the way your teeth fit together when biting.

There are certain risk factors that may increase the chances of gum disease in an individual. These include smoking, systemic diseases (such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis), poor oral hygiene, stress, heredity, underlying immunodeficiencies (example: AIDS), fillings that may have become defective, bridges that no longer fit correctly, medications that may cause dry mouth (for example, anti-depressants and certain heart medications), clenching or grinding of teeth, poor nutrition, and some female hormone changes. The disease is more prevalent in men than women, the likelihood of periodontal disease increases with age, those living below the federal poverty level, those with less than a high school education, and smokers or tobacco users are also more likely to develop the disease.

Depending on the stage and severity of the gum disease, there are many different options for treating it. Oral medication, creams or ointments that can be applied directly to the gums, and professional cleanings by a dentist or hygienist are some of the easier ways to help remedy the problems for those who are in the beginning stages of this disease. When it becomes more advanced things such as below-the-gum tooth-root cleanings and sometimes-corrective surgery is the answer. To help prevent periodontal disease it is imperative that one brush and floss their teeth daily to help remove any tarter or bacteria that might produce gum disease and to see your dentist at least once a year for checkups. If you smoke, or use other forms of tobacco, than quitting would also help in the prevention of the disease, reducing stress, and maintaining a well-balanced and nutritional diet are other ways to help ward off periodontal disease.





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