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The gums are an important part of the dental structure. They support the teeth securely to the bone and provide protective cover to the nerves and roots. When a tooth loosens, gum disease is often the reason. That's why paying attention to gum health is an important part of dental care.
Steady throbbing or a sudden spurt of pain are indications that a tooth may be decayed. But gum disease can creep up slowly. Watching for the signs of gingivitis, or the more serious periodontitis, will save people from the discomfort of inflamed gums and possible loss of teeth.
During regular checkups, a dentist will evaluate the condition of gum tissue. Any deterioration will show up on X-rays, and if the gum pockets that surround the teeth have receded, that's another sure sign that damage has begun.
Many families have to delay their dentist visits because of the expense involved. If they can't afford the high cost of dental insurance, they may not catch oral health problems in early stages and have bigger problems later. Dental health plans are more reasonably priced and allow consumers to obtain care for their teeth and gums at discounted prices.
What causes gum disease?
Although gum disease can develop in some cases as early as the teen years, it's usually a condition that is associated with aging. Most people don't have gum problems until they're past age 40, and it tends to worsen as people get older.
Other factors that bring about gum disease include pregnancy and the hormonal changes that stem from it, as well as health problems such as diabetes, according to the American Dental Association. Certain medications may aggravate gum health as well. As a result, dentists should be told of any health issues that their patients are experiencing.
Smoking and chewing tobacco can aggravate the gums because of the toxins they release into the mouth. Stopping the habit will not only curb the progression of gum inflammation, but it will improve the appearance of teeth, which can yellow from contact with smoke and tobacco.
While the teeth may remain healthy, if the gums aren't strong enough to support them, tooth loss can occur, reported WebMD.com. Receding gums, pain at the gum line, sensitivity to heat and cold or red and puffy gums are indications that inflammation is present.
Gingivitis accounts for about 70 percent of gum disease and usually shows itself by bleeding when teeth are brushed and flossed, or by the presence of continuous bad breath. It starts with bacteria lodged at the gum line when teeth aren't properly cleaned.
Left untreated, gingivitis may evolve into periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease that occurs in about 30 percent of cases. Typically, periodontitis develops when inflammation has proceeded to the point that connective tissue and the bone that support the teeth are affected.
When people don't brush, floss and rinse with mouthwash on a regular basis, they aren't cleaning away substances such as food and beverages that will coat their teeth and irritate the gums. Dentists recommend gentle brushing with a soft-bristle brush because it is easier on the gums and tooth enamel.
Brushing two or three times a day and flossing at least once is often recommended, along with regular rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash. Flossing strengthens the gums and helps to remove tooth plaque before it builds up to a damaging level.
Whatever name is used to describe it - gingivitis, periodontitis, receding gums or inflammation - gum disease is an important dental care concern that must be monitored carefully.
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