Why is it important to prevent gum problems?
More teeth are lost because of gum problems than because of tooth decay, so it is important to take care of your gums. Most adults have some degree of gum disease. Usually it progresses slowly and can be stopped from getting worse. Some people are genetically predisposed to developing gum problems.
What is gum disease and what causes it?
When you don’t brush your teeth for a while, you will notice a yellowish sticky paste that accumulates on them. This material looks like food debris, but it’s actually a film of bacteria which forms on the surface of the teeth and gums every day.
Many of these bacteria are harmless. But others happily munch away at the same food you’re eating and then excrete toxins and enzymes – using the grooves where your tooth meets the gum as a toilet of sorts. Bacteria thrive in the plaque environment and multiply until they account for nearly 100% of the mass of the plaque. This is why it’s important to remove it.
When your body notices the toxins, it mounts a defense against them by creating lots of new little blood vessels in the area to fight of the infection. The new blood vessels make the gums look red and swollen. But the bacteria attack the blood vessels, which then become fragile and bleed easily.
This first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, and it is easily reversed by simply cleaning the teeth thoroughly once a day.
But gum disease is painless, and many people are unaware that they have it (most adults do have some degree of gum disease). As it progresses, the bone which anchors the teeth in the jaw is lost, making the teeth loose. If this is not treated, the teeth may eventually fall out or have to be taken out because of pain.