If there’s one thing that regularly drives all dentists a little crazy, it’s the who-cares view that many Canadians have for gum disease. To many Albertans, gum disease is that thing that makes your gums look a little red and maybe bleed if they ever floss, but it doesn’t hurt or really do much, so why should they care anyways?
In some ways, this mindset comes from the fact their gum disease is still in the curable stage. Before gum disease causes any permanent damage, it is rather benign. Which makes the answer for why you should care rather obvious. You will care eventually. But by the time your teeth are loose and sensitive, it’s too late to do anything.
Gum disease is caused by bacteria on the teeth irritating the gums. After you eat a snack or meal (or drink something other than water), leftovers are left on your teeth. Your mouth is filled with bacteria who eat the residue and pieces of food. However, as they eat the food, they produce acids as a byproduct (similar to how people produce urine). The acid burns the gum, and it becomes inflamed — the first step of gum disease. If nothing is done to prevent bacteria near the gumline from producing acid, the gum will slowly detach from the tooth and recede up towards the jaws. Once gum has receded, it cannot return to its original position.
As the gum recedes, the root of your tooth, which is not nearly as well protected as the crown, becomes visible. The nerve inside the root is much more vulnerable. Bacteria can start producing acids that eat away at the root and very quickly teeth become extremely sensitive to heat, cold, pressure, and even sugar. The disease will continue to progress if not treated. Eventually teeth will be so sensitive that chewing can become painful. If gums continue to recede because action is not taken to heal the gum disease, teeth will become loose and may even fall out.
While cavities and tooth decay much have much more immediate symptoms, gum disease shouldn’t be ignored simply because it acts slowly. To learn more about gum disease and how you can prevent your receding gums and sensitive teeth, give us a call at 403-262-2627.