The simple act of eating and drinking can trigger an invasion of plaque into the most unsuspecting mouth, as a result of the chemical reaction between the food and the naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths. Dental plaque is a soft, sticky film of bacteria that forms on the surface of your teeth, that if not removed daily by brushing and flossing can harden into tartar and lead to an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. If unattended, this could lead to periodontitis – an advanced stage of gum disease resulting in serious damage to the gums and bone that support the teeth.
The problem with gum disease (or “periodontal disease”) is that it usually develops without any warning signs and without causing any pain, so you may not notice anything until the disease is serious and you are in danger of losing teeth. The good news is that with proper care, gum disease can almost always be prevented, and even if it does start, it can usually be treated or even reversed if we catch it in the early stages.
The first stage of gum disease is called “gingivitis”, and it presents itself initially as red, swollen gums. As the disease progresses, you may experience tenderness and bleeding in your gums when you brush your teeth.
If not treated, gingivitis can lead to the more advanced stage of gum disease, “periodontitis”. Symptoms of periodontitis include red, swollen or tender gums, gums that have pulled away from the teeth, loose teeth, persistent bad breath and a change in the way your teeth or partial dentures fit together when you bite.
Call us for an appointment immediately if you notice any of the symptoms above. Remember that gum disease is preventable with good dental habits, including brushing and flossing your teeth thoroughly to remove the bacteria that initiate the decay process, eating healthy foods and visiting the dentist for regular, professional cleanings.