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Gum disease is a general term for various infections, from gingivitis to periodontitis, of the gums. Any family dentist will say that it isn’t something people’s mouths would want to deal with. Gum disease is caused most often by built up plaque, tartar and other bacteria on teeth due to poor oral hygiene. Susceptibility of such gum infections varies depending on genetics, whether or not you are a tobacco user, other illnesses and their treatments, et cetera…
When plaque and other build-up on teeth is left untreated, gum disease, such as mild gingivitis, which inflames and irritates the gum line, can develop into periodontitis—an advanced stage of the infection, causing the gums to pull away from teeth. Once this occurs, spaces will begin to form, making for great bacteria-filled pockets which will invariably become increasingly infected. In response, the body’s immune system will naturally start fighting the bacterial infection as it spreads below the gum line. This in turn causes problems elsewhere in the body such as with respiratory infections which occur when the bacteria from your mouth travel to the lungs.
And if all of that isn’t enough to get you to brush and floss regularly as your family dentist advises that you do, there are also effects of gum disease occurring from the body’s response to it. When your body’s immune system engages to fight the infection, it attacks and breaks down the surrounding tissue that is still holding teeth in place. Nearly the entire inside of the mouth—from bone, gums and tissue—is destroyed. Along with toxins from the infectious bacteria, such a breakdown will force teeth to become loose.Gum disease treatment should be initiated much before this level of severity occurs from the infection.
Gum disease treatments vary from simply correcting and improving dental hygiene care at home, to professional deep cleaning gum disease treatments or even surgery in serious cases. This is why preventative care is so crucial. Starting at home is the best form of gum disease treatment because it is prevention. But if the infection has surpassed plaque build-up and moved on to tartar, professional scaling and root planning (deep cleaning) will be necessary—only professional cleaning can remove tartar.
Another preventative measure for gum disease, other than forms of cleaning, is the option of teeth straightening, such as with invisalign—a modern, nearly invisible method of aligning teeth through stages of an individually designed treatment plan, custom to only you. Straighter teeth are actually healthier teeth too, because there are fewer unreachable spots for bacteria to fester in (such as the spaces, or lack of any, between inappropriately aligned teeth). Properly aligned teeth also help gums fit better around teeth and bone, making them easier to clean and, again, healthier. Talking to your family dentist and orthodontist about preventative measures, like cleaning and straightening, and treatments for gum disease (as well as following through with the advice) is the best way to fight against such infections of the mouth.