From the time of our youth we learn about the importance of properly caring for our teeth to prevent tooth decay. While this is fantastic and greatly helps many patients avoid the need for dental treatments, other important areas of the mouth also need to be properly cared for to prevent serious oral health complications. The gums are one area that often is overlooked when it comes to oral health and oral care. Lack of gum care can lead to gum disease, which is an inflammation or infection in the gums. When gum disease remains untreated and is allowed to progress, it can cause damage to the jawbone that supports the teeth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of American adults aged 30 and older have some form of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. This oral health condition is an infection of the soft tissues that support the teeth and is caused by plaque. Plaque is the sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth, and when it is left there for too long, it hardens and turns into tartar. It’s tartar that irritates the gums and causes inflammation. If you notice that you have red or swollen gums, bleeding gums after brushing, or sensitive teeth, you might be in the beginning stages of gum disease.