Approximately 80% of Canadians will develop gum disease at some time in their lives. It is the most common dental problem, and it can progress quite painlessly until you have a real problem. That's why it is so important to prevent gum disease before it becomes serious.
Signs of gum disease include:
- gums bleeding from brushing or flossing your teeth
- teeth moving or loosening
- pain, redness, or swelling of the gums
- persistent bad breath
Gum disease begins when plaque adheres at and below the visible edge of your gums. If plaque is not removed every day by brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar (also called calculus).
There are two main kinds of gum diseases: gingivitis and periodontitis. If you have gingivitis, your gums may be slightly red, or you may notice nothing at all. In cases of more advanced gingivitis, your gums may become puffy and bleed during brushing. Periodontitis is a more serious form of gum disease involving the bone that supports your teeth. Over time, as a result of the bone loss caused by periodontitis, you may be at risk of losing one or more teeth.
Prevention is the most important factor in the fight against gum disease. It is essential to keep your teeth and gums clean. Brush your teeth properly at least twice a day and floss at least once every 24 hours. Also, avoid smoking or chewing tobacco.
Using proper brushing and flossing techniques is equally important. Be sure to see your dentist regularly for professional cleaning and checkups so that he or she can detect any early signs of gum disease and provide appropriate treatment.
Special thanks to the Canadian Dental Association for their help with this article.
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