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Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth.

Your caring dentists, Doctors Sweeney and Utterback, frequently warn patients about gum disease because it is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Without question, gum disease is a stealthy stealer of smiles.

To guard against the onslaught of periodontal disease, we want you to know the causes and warning signs that lead to this affliction.

Risk Factors for Gum Disease
Poor oral hygiene ensures that gum disease will attack your mouth. Remember that we recommend brushing your teeth for about two minutes, twice a day with an ADA-accepted fluoride toothpaste. And it is equally important that you floss once a day.

Genetics can play a role in your susceptibility to periodontal disease. And crooked teeth that are difficult to clean properly also contribute to gum infection. Other factors such as pregnancy and diabetes can add to the likelihood that gum disease will invade your mouth.

Some medications can also contribute to your propensity to experience gum disease, such as steroids or certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives.

And of course, smoking and tobacco-use also increase your risk of developing gum disease.

Warning Signs for Gum Disease
If your gums bleed easily or they are red, swollen, or tender, then you likely have gum disease. Another sign of gum disease is if your gums recede or pull away from your teeth. And if your teeth are loose, separating or if you have chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth — then you probably have gum disease.

We Are Here to Help
The sooner you treat gum disease, the better. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, which produces red and swollen gums that bleed easily. At this stage, the infection is curable and can usually be eliminated by a professional cleaning, brushing twice daily and flossing once daily.

Advanced gum disease or “periodontitis” is a much more serious matter. Chronic periodontitis can lead to the loss of the bone and tissue that support your teeth, which in turn leads to tooth loss.

You should know that it is possible to have gum disease without experiencing any of the telltale symptoms described above. For this reason, it’s imperative that you get your regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations.

Remember: You don’t have to lose your teeth to gum disease!

For more information about gum disease, contact Sweeney Utterback Dentistry at 757.222.3737. We’re always happy to hear from you.