When it comes to your mouth’s health, it’s not all about how straight your teeth are or how bright your smile is. You can’t forget about your gums! Even if you’re cavity-free and have the pearliest chompers in town, that doesn’t mean you’re immune to gum disease. Since it’s usually painless, most people have no idea that anything is wrong with their gums.
Gingivitis: early-stage gum disease that causes inflammation, swelling, and bleeding
Periodontitis: advanced gum disease that can damage your bones and teeth
Gum disease starts when plaque builds up under and along the gum line. Plaque is a sticky film-like substance that’s filled with bacteria. It can cause infections that hurt the gum and bone, leading to gum disease and tooth decay. Plaque also can cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Gingivitis causes your gums to become inflamed, tender, red, or swollen, and prone to bleeding. Fortunately, since the bone and tissue holding the teeth in place aren’t impacted, this damage is reversible.
You can also get periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease, which impacts the bones that hold your teeth in place. Left untreated, it can ruin the gums, bones, and tissues connected to your teeth.
The final stage of gum disease is advanced periodontitis, where the fibers and bone supporting your teeth are destroyed. It can impact your bite, and teeth may need to be removed.
Tartar is plaque that has hardened.
Tartar causes more damage the longer it stays on your teeth.
Dental cleanings are the only way to remove tartar.