Gum diseases are infections that affect the soft tissues surrounding, and supporting the teeth. The health of the tooth itself depends upon the condition of these periodontal tissues. They hold the teeth in place, in their sockets allowing them to withstand forces of mastication. The two most common types of gum diseases prevalent throughout the world are Gingivitis, and Periodontitis. The latter is a more aggressive, progressed form of the former.
Gingivitis is characterized by redness, swelling and bleeding of gum. There can also be mild to moderate pocket formation, or gaps between the gum and tooth. This condition arises mostly due to improper oral hygiene practices, or lack thereof. The accumulation of plaque and eventual buildup of calculus irritates the gums, thus causing inflammation and bleeding. Gingivitis, with proper cleaning, regular brushing and flossing, is reversible.
Periodontitis on the other hand is an advanced, often irreversible form of gingivitis when it is left untreated. Symptoms of this condition include, inflammation, frequent bleeding, halitosis (foul mouth odor), formation of pockets, gingival recession, mobility of the teeth, and early loss of teeth. Treating Periodontitis involves aggressive antibiotic therapy, surgical intervention to immobilize teeth, professional cleaning, and root planning.
Both conditions can easily be prevented with a few oral hygiene routine, and dietary modifications, such as:
- Brushing at least twice a day, especially following meals and before bedtime. Brushing must also be performed using the correct technique for proper cleaning.
- Flossing at least once a day to remove food debris from areas between teeth that cannot be accessed or cleaning using a toothbrush.
- Visiting the dental office at least once in three to four months for professional cleaning, or Ultrasonic Scaling.
- Discontinuing, or reducing the use of cigarettes, tobacco, and alcohol – all of which have been known to damage hard and soft structures of the oral cavity.
- Routinely visiting the dental office for regular assessment and evaluation of oral health.