When you look at your mouth in a mirror you can see your teeth, your gums, and your tongue, but there are also tiny bacteria that is not visible to the eye. The bacterial plaque that can sit on the teeth and gums can eventually lead to tooth decay and gum disease if not properly removed. Regular brushing and flossing is the first step to keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy, but it is not the last. Professional cleanings from the dentist help get rid of the plaque that at home brushing alone cannot remove.
When most people hear the phrase “plaque,” they immediately think about tooth decay. While cavities are a consequence of improper cleaning, periodontal disease is a serious problem faced by many adults.
Gum disease can be broken down into two stages: gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. It is characterized by inflamed, red gums that can be prone to bleeding, especially while brushing. When treated promptly, gingivitis can be reversed through a professional deep cleaning and strict adherence to good oral hygiene habits at home. If left untreated, the gingivitis will progress into periodontitis.
In the second and most serious stage, the gums will begin to separate from teeth, forming pockets. Bacteria and infection grow in these pockets and can spread throughout the gums and to the bone. At this point, teeth lose their support structure and become loose; eventually causing them fall out or require extraction.
The good news about gum disease is that it is preventable. Regular brushing and flossing along with twice-yearly dental visits can keep the plaque that causes it from building up on the teeth. In addition to professional cleanings, regular dental visits help the dentist identify early warning signs of the disease while it is still reversible.
Patients who notice any signs or symptoms of early gum disease should make an appointment as soon as possible to keep the disease from advancing. If you are in the Highland area and would like to learn more about preventing and managing periodontal disease, call us today at [phone].