Gum disease is one of the primary reasons that American dental patients lose their healthy teeth. Gum disease in its earliest stages is known as gingivitis and is characterized by bleeding gums, puffiness and sensitivity.
The good news about gingivitis is that when caught early it can be treated, if not completely reversed. This is done through improved dental care at home. In order to avoid the onset of gingivitis, be sure to brush your teeth after every meal, paying special attention to cleaning along your gum line. The most important step for avoiding gum disease is to floss your teeth regularly. This is often a neglected step but very important, as it eliminates debris and bacteria at the source.
If allowed to advance, gingivitis can become full-fledged periodontal disease known as periodontitis. At this level your gum disease may require professional treatments such as scaling to remove hardened plaque from below the gum line, root planning to remove plaque buildup on root surfaces, treatment with antibiotics or even surgery or tissue/bone grafts.
No matter what stage you find your gum disease, it is important that it be treated immediately. Gum disease has been medically linked to risk for heart disease, stroke, and even preterm or low-weight births.