One of the more common issues that dentists treat is gum disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half (47.2%) of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of gum disease. Additionally, the percentage of people with gum disease actually increases with age. In fact, just over 70% of adults over 65 show signs of periodontal disease.
Gum disease is an infection of the gums that begins with bacterial growth. Without treatment, gum disease will continue to advance. Some of the advanced side effects include tooth loss or severe damage to the soft tissues. Gum disease can spread through your gums and into the bones in your jaw.
This process begins with irritation or inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). The bacteria that causes gingivitis or gum disease is plaque. While plaque is one reason for gum disease, there are other factors that can cause gum disease development.
Poor Oral Health
One of the leading causes of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. If you don’t brush or floss your teeth as recommended, you won’t be able to remove plaque sufficiently. Plaque is a thick bacteria that coats the surfaces of your teeth and gums. Normally, you would remove most, if not all, plaque from your teeth during your daily oral health routine.
Many people skip the flossing portion of their oral routine. However, flossing is essential to help reduce the chances of gum disease. No matter how thoroughly you brush your teeth, you won’t be able to remove all plaque without flossing. Brushing alone is not enough.
Unlike brushing, flossing allows you to get between your teeth and underneath your gum line. The plaque that sits underneath your gum line will irritate your gums, eventually creating gingivitis or gum disease
Sometimes, you may have a comprehensive oral health routine, but you may still develop gum disease. While this may be frustrating, it isn’t your fault. Some people are more likely to have gum disease due to their genetics. This means that you are predisposed to developing gum disease.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much that you can do other than to remain on top of your oral health and consult your dentist. It is likely that you will need to make regular appointments to monitor the disease.
Smoking or Chewing Tobacco
If you smoke or chew tobacco, you are at an increased risk of developing gum disease. Tobacco interferes with the gum tissue and its ability to function normally. For example, smoking reduces the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream. This means that your gums take longer to heal if you have an injury.
Additionally, smoking or chewing tobacco increases the amount of plaque that you produce. If you do not remove plaque sufficiently, it can harden into tartar, which is a calcified version of plaque. Unfortunately, you cannot remove tartar at home; you will need the help of a dental professional.
Along with gum disease, smoking increases the likelihood of gum recession and tooth loss.