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Gum disease, or periodontitis, is the No. 1 reason adults lose teeth. Healthy gums are one of the most important factors when it comes to dental health. However, you may not know how to monitor the health of your gums. We’re here to help.
The dentists at Santa Monica Bay Dental see many cases of periodontitis in patients who come in for dental exams or other services with no idea that they have a problem. It can be helpful to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy gums.
Your gums serve many purposes, but one of the most important is that they create a seal between the part of your teeth you can see, which is coated in protective enamel, and the roots of your teeth, where nerves and blood vessels are. They keep out harmful bacteria and debris, and protect the pulp of your teeth.
When bacteria can get through the seal of your gums, you can get an infection that destroys your tooth and may even cause bone loss or problems with your heart. Your gums protect your overall health in addition to the health of your teeth.
When you have healthy gums, they are pink and firm. You don’t see blood when you brush your teeth, and you don’t notice swelling when you look in the mirror.
The earliest stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, is due to plaque buildup on your teeth. You can’t see plaque, but you may notice that your gums look redder than usual, and they may bleed or feel tender when you floss or brush your teeth.
It’s possible to have gingivitis and not realize it. The next stage of gum disease is periodontitis. At this stage you’re more likely to have tender, swollen, inflamed gums. You may even notice that your gums look like they are pulling away from your teeth.
It’s important to get treatment at this stage in order to preserve your oral health. We may suggest root scaling and planing, a procedure that removes the buildup of plaque and tartar below your gumline; removing any diseased gum tissue or decayed or damaged teeth; or surgery to repair the roots of your teeth or your jawbone.
The most important step in preventing gum disease is impeccable oral hygiene. Brush twice a day and floss and use mouthwash at least once per day.
However, even the most careful at-home hygiene routine can still result in gum disease if it’s not accompanied by regular visits to your dentist for professional cleanings. We can remove plaque and tartar before it has the chance to breach the seal of your gums, and we can spot any early warning signs that indicate you may be developing gingivitis.
If it’s time for your routine visit, or if you have questions about your gum health, schedule your appointment by calling or messaging our office in Santa Monica, California, today!