According to a recent national poll, everybody knows that brushing is important for healthy teeth and gums, and almost everybody agrees that flossing and regular visits to the dentist are equally important. Surprisingly most Americans donít identify gum disease as a serious health risk, or recognize dental plaque as the cause of the problem.

Plaque is your mouthís worst enemy. As it builds up between your teeth and gum line, it can lead to the build up of tarter and calculus. It can cause bad breath and unsightly teeth, and it is the primary cause of gum disease.

The term gum disease actually includes several diseases that may develop slowly over a number of years, and progress in stages, gum disease is painless in its early stages. These diseases affect the gums, bone and other supporting structures of the teeth.

  • Healthy Gums: Gums are firm and resilient, with a healthy pink color. Healthy gums do not bleed on probing. Tissue is firm with a normal variation of lighter and darker areas.
  • Gingivitis: An inflammation of the gingiva or gums with a loss of color variation. Gum tissue is red, inflamed and bleeds when probed or when brushing. Puffy tissue causes shallow pockets between gum and tooth.
  • Early Periodontitis: marked by loss of gum attachment and a slight loss of bone. Bleeding is more persistent on probing. Pockets of 3-4 mm develop between teeth and gums in one or more areas of the mouth. There can be a sense of vague aching, pressure and/or itching in the gums.
  • Moderate Periodontitis: Supporting gums and bones have deteriorated and teeth may start to loosen. Horizontal bone loss is suffered up to 1/3 of the length of the tooth root. The gum attachment to the tooth weakens and pockets are now 4-6mm deep. Teeth may look longer, as gums begin receding. Bad breath becomes noticeable.
  • Advanced Periodontitis: Tissue and bone are destroyed causing tooth loss. Pockets are now more than 6mm deep with considerable bleeding upon probing. Eating is difficult and painful and teeth may be sensitive to hot and cold. Bad breath is constant and general health may be affected.

Oral diseases not treated in time can lead to painful, bleeding gums, oral infections, and eventually tooth loss. Fortunately, modern dentistry has made enormous strides in preventing and treating gum disease. Fluoridated drinking water and fluoridated toothpaste, along with dental sealants have made cavities and fillings almost a thing of the past, and may eventually do the same thing for gum disease. Following these simple steps significantly reduces your risk of gum disease:

  • See your dentist twice a year.
  • Brush your teeth 2-3 times a day for about 2 minutes each time.
  • Floss regularly.
  • Replace your toothbrush every 4-8 weeks or when the bristles start to splay (spread) due to bristle fatigue.