The American Dental Association (ADA) defines gum disease as "an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth." What does this mean to you? It means that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is caused by plaque —a semitransparent, sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth and can build up to create damaging toxins if you don't have a proper oral-care regimen. The beginning stage of this plaque buildup is a characteristic of gingivitis. Plaque itself is caused naturally by the things you do every day, such as eating or breathing.
How Do I Know If I Have Gum Disease?
There are several telltale signs of gum disease. They include:
- Bleeding gums (especially when you brush and floss)
- Tender, swollen gums
- A receding gum line
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
Is Gum Disease Inevitable?
Fortunately, it's not. While we all have plaque (it's naturally occurring), there are several easy steps you can take every day to help keep your smile healthy for life. And while you might be familiar with each step, you might not realize how important it is that you do all the steps together, every day.
What If I Think I Have Gum Disease?
Don't worry; you're not alone. More than 80 percent of adults have some form of gum disease. In most cases, you can help reverse, and even protect against, its effects. So how do you treat gum disease? Great question!
How Do You Treat and Protect Against Gum Disease?
The best way to help prevent gum disease is to improve your oral-care habits by doing the following twice a day, every day:
- Flossing, which loosens and removes plaque between teeth and below the gum line
- Brushing, which removes plaque on the teeth and gums
- Using a rinse, which washes away the loose plaque while killing the germs that cause gum disease
Really, that's all it takes.