Gum disease is the primary cause of adult tooth loss. Also known as periodontal disease, it is a chronic inflammation and infection of the gums and surrounding tissue caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a sticky substance that forms on teeth when they are not adequately cleaned. If plaque remains on the teeth for long periods of time, it releases bacteria into the gums, resulting in loosening of the tissue and creating pockets in which even more bacteria may thrive. Avoiding periodontal disease is an important reason why you should visit a hygienist regularly.
Signs of gum disease include:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing
- Loose teeth
- Pus between gums and teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Change in bite or fit of dentures
A thorough routine of brushing and flossing is the most effective preventive factor in helping to prevent gum disease. If the gums reach an advanced stage of the disease, surgery may be required to remove the hardened plaque and re-contour any damaged bone. A dentist can evaluate your periodontal condition and recommend appropriate treatment.