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A healthy smile is not just about your teeth. In fact, without your gums to keep your teeth in place, your smile would be, well, toothless. Today we’re going to talk about gum disease and how it impacts your oral health as well as your overall health because research increasingly shows that the two are linked.

Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease. You can fall prey to this health concern if oral bacteria, which you may be more familiar with as dental plaque, build up in those areas between the teeth and gums. While you can’t really see it, you can likely feel this bacterial film when you run your tongue across your teeth. It is slightly sticky, colorless, and consists of oral bacteria.

As plaque sticks to teeth and gums, it can irritate or inflame the gum tissue. In the early stage of gum disease or gingivitis, the gums can become inflamed, swell and bleed easily, while looking redder than normal. Since gingivitis is fairly painless at this stage, you might not even notice it unless you are looking at your gums. Many times, gingivitis at this stage is a result of poor oral hygiene. The good news is, it is also reversible this early on, which usually means a professional deep cleaning and stepping up your oral hygiene is in order. Pretty easy, right?

Now that’s the good news. The bad news is, if you don’t take action at this stage of the disease, gingivitis will only progress, and that’s not good. What this means is you can’t ignore it and expect this condition to heal itself. Particularly if you have other illnesses, conditions, etc., which can contribute to or make it worse. If gingivitis is left untreated, it will spread. So now, instead of building up between teeth and gums, it will spread to the area below the gum line. As the bacteria proliferate, the produced toxins create a chronic inflammatory response in the body, breaking down the tissues and the bone holding the teeth in place, and destroying them. If this continues unchecked, the gums will recede, or pull away from the teeth, leaving a space or pocket between the gums and the teeth. As these pockets inflame and become infected, they grow deeper and deeper as gum tissue and supportive bone deteriorates. When it progresses to the point where teeth loosen, they may need to be taken out altogether.

To learn more, feel free to give us a call for more information. We’ll be happy to help you and your smile today!