What Is Gum Disease?

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an oral condition that affects the gums and supporting structures in your mouth. It begins as a bacterial infection, and if untreated, it can gradually progress until it destroys your gums and bone structure. The milder stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis while the more severe form of the disease is known as periodontitis. The CDC estimates 47.2% of adults aged 30 years old in the United States have some form of periodontal disease.

Gum disease is caused by harmful bacteria trapped in plaque. As plaque hardens into calculus (tartar), the disease becomes more established in your mouth. Some symptoms of periodontal disease include:

  • Swollen, red or tender gums
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing or eating
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • Sores in your mouth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Changes in your bite or in the fit of removable appliances such as dentures

How to Help Prevent Gum Disease

The best way to avoid developing gum disease is to practice good oral hygiene at home. We recommend that you brush at least twice a day. Ideally, you should brush after each meal as well as before going to bed at night. Floss daily. You should also visit your dentist at least twice each year for routine cleanings and exams, as these visits will include a check to determine if you have developed gum disease.

Periodontal Disease and Your Health

Your oral and overall health are closely connected. Periodontal disease increases your risk of developing or exacerbating serious medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease or osteoporosis. If you have a preexisting condition such as those listed here, it is also more likely that you will develop gum disease. Women who are pregnant are also at risk of developing gum disease and should visit their dentists regularly as this condition can lead to premature and low-birth weight babies.

For more information about periodontal disease and to schedule an appointment with our dentist in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Dr. David Throckmorton, call Ocean Atlantic Dental today at 757-498-1663.