According to the Canadian Dental Association, approximately 70% of Canadians will probably develop gum disease during their life. Gum disease is so common that it’s easy to overlook and shrug off as not a big deal. If left untreated, though, gum disease can progress to the point of gum and tooth loss and even an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

What causes gum disease?

The most common cause of periodontitis (the technical term for gum disease) is the presence of plaque on your teeth and gums. Plaque forms when the sugar and starches in the foods you eat interact with the bacteria present in your mouth. You can prevent plaque from accumulating on your teeth and gums by brushing and flossing, but it’ll keep on coming back when you eat.

If plaque is left to linger on your teeth, it will gradually harden into a substance called tartar. Tartar is filled with bacteria and is much harder than plaque and can’t be removed just by brushing and flossing. Even a dentist near you needs to use special dental tools and implements to remove it.

The ongoing and increasing presence of plaque and tartar causes irritation and inflammation of your gum tissue around the base of your teeth. In its mildest form, that irritation and inflammation is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is mild enough that it can be eliminated just by renewing your diligent daily dental habits to remove as much plaque as possible from your teeth. If not eliminated, though, it can progress to the much more serious form of gum disease — periodontitis.

Periodontitis causes the gum tissue around your teeth to recede (pull away) from your teeth. As the gum tissue pulls away, pockets are formed between your teeth and gums. Those pockets get filled with bacteria, plaque and tartar that cause further infection that deepens those pockets. The deepening of the pockets and the accumulation of increasing materials only accelerates the infection and eventually causes so much tissue and even bone tissue loss that your teeth will loosen and eventually fall out. Even beyond affecting your gums and teeth, the infection and bacteria will spread throughout your body via your bloodstream.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?

While the presence of plaque and tartar on and around your teeth and gums is the primary cause of gingivitis and periodontitis, there are other risk factors that can contribute to the development of gum disease. Those other risk factors include: smoking or chewing tobacco, hormone changes during pregnancy or menopause, smoking marijuana, vaping, obesity, insufficient Vitamin C intake, medications that cause dry mouth, medical conditions that decrease your immune response, and chronic diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, get in touch with a dentist in Red Deer to find out the best options for gum disease treatment near you.

  • Swollen and puffy gums
  • Gum tissue that isn’t pink, but bright red or even purplish
  • Gums that are tender to the touch and that bleed easily
  • Noticing blood on your toothbrush or in your sink while or after brushing or flossing
  • Persistent bad breath even when using mouthwash or breath mints
  • Loose or lost teeth
  • Widening or new gaps between your teeth
  • You may notice changes in the way your upper and lower teeth fit together when your jaws meet
  • You may notice the shrinking away of your gums (or your teeth may look as if they’re getting longer)

As if the loss of gum tissue and potential loss of teeth is not strong enough reason to get gum disease treatment in Red Deer, gum disease can spread beyond your mouth. It can increase your risk of developing conditions like respiratory disease and even coronary artery disease. If you’re experiencing symptoms of gum disease, get in touch with a dentist near you right away to protect your oral and general health.