What is gum disease?
Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, is an infection of the soft tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth. It can come in several different forms. For example, gingivitis is a mild to moderate form of gum disease that affects only the soft tissues of the mouth and teeth. In more advanced cases of gum disease, the bones and supporting structures of the teeth become infected. If left untreated, this infection can eventually result in tooth loss.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease can be caused by a variety of factors, including bacteria and plaque buildup in the mouth, smoking, hormonal shifts, some prescription medications, nutritional deficiencies, uneven teeth, and even genetics.
However, good oral hygiene can help combat most of the factors listed above. To reduce your risk of developing gum disease, you should try to practice good oral hygiene habits, like brushing and flossing daily and attending regularly scheduled professional dental cleanings.
The Most Common Cause of Gum Disease
Whether you are experiencing a hormonal shift (perhaps a pregnancy), are a regular smoker, or take a prescription medication, gum disease is ultimately caused by the unimpeded development of bacteria and plaque in the mouth.
This is actually good news because it means that most of the time gum disease is easily prevented by a good oral hygiene routine. While the above-listed issues can increase the risk of gum disease (and make prevention more difficult), it is ultimately up to you whether it actually develops.
The best way to prevent gum disease is twice-daily brushing and flossing, and regular visits to your dentist for professional cleaning (for most people, twice a year is should be sufficient).