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Gum disease is a very common health condition, which affects most of us at some point in our lives. Most people experience gingivitis, a mild form of the condition, which can be easily treated; however, some people develop periodontal disease, which is an advanced form of gum disease, which can be very serious.

What causes gum disease?

There are lots of different possible causes of gum disease but the most common cause is poor oral hygiene. If you neglect your teeth and gums, plaque starts to build up and cling to the surfaces of the teeth; plaque forms when you eat foods that are high in starch and sugar and bacteria breaks it down and produces acids, which attack the teeth. Plaque is usually removed by brushing, flossing and rinsing but if it is left in the mouth, it can develop into tartar, which is a hard substance that is difficult to remove.

Smokers and people who have diabetes are also more likely to suffer from gum disease and pregnant women are prone to gingivitis.

Signs to look out for

It’s important to treat gum disease early so that it does not develop into an advanced condition, so keep an eye out for common symptoms, including bleeding gums and swollen and red gums; these are symptomatic of gingivitis. If you experience symptoms such as bad breath, receding gums, loose teeth abscesses and a foul taste in the mouth, this may indicate that you periodontal disease; if this is the case, you need to arrange to see your dentist as soon as possible, as the condition can be very serious.

Tips for preventing gum disease

The best way to try and reduce the risk of gum disease is to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, use mouthwash and dental floss on a regular basis and see your dentist for a check-up every six to twelve months. It’s also beneficial to keep an eye on your diet and see your hygienist for regular cleaning treatments. Using an electric toothbrush is usually better for your teeth, as more plaque can be removed from the mouth. If you smoke, it’s also a good idea to try and give up; this will benefit your general health, as well as your oral health.

Treating gum disease

Mild cases of gingivitis can usually be treated by adopting a good oral hygiene routine and having a cleaning treatment at the dentist’s; however, if the condition is more serious, a more intensive treatment may be required. In severe cases, the affected tooth may have to be removed and surgery may be needed; your dentist may also advise you to have root planning, which is a powerful cleaning treatment that removes the bacteria from the roots of the teeth.

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