also known as periodontal disease, is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and the supporting structures of the teeth. It is caused by the accumulation of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth, and if not properly removed through regular oral hygiene practices such as brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings, it can lead to inflammation and infection of the gums.
There are two main types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the milder form and affects only the gums, causing redness, swelling, and bleeding. It is usually reversible with proper oral hygiene and professional dental care. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis, which is a more severe form of gum disease that affects the deeper tissues and bone supporting the teeth. Periodontitis can lead to gum recession, bone loss, tooth mobility, and even tooth loss if not treated promptly.
Risk factors for gum disease include poor oral hygiene, smoking, hormonal changes (such as during pregnancy), certain medications, systemic diseases (such as diabetes), genetic predisposition, and other factors that compromise the immune system.
Symptoms of gum disease may include:
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Bad breath or a persistent bad taste in the mouth
- Receding gums or teeth that appear longer
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Changes in bite or the way the teeth fit together
- Pus around the teeth and gums
- Changes in the alignment of teeth
Prevention and treatment of gum disease typically involve maintaining good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing regularly, quitting smoking if applicable, eating a healthy diet, and visiting a dentist for regular check-ups and professional cleanings. In more advanced cases, treatments may include scaling and root planing (a deep cleaning procedure), antibiotic therapy, gum surgeries, and other interventions depending on the severity of the disease.
If you suspect you may have gum disease or have concerns about your oral health, it is important to consult with a qualified dental professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.