Oral & Vision Health Blog

What is Gum Disease, Exactly?

So, your dentist tells you that you have mild (or not so mild) gingivitis. You might think that just means your gums are slightly inflamed – but gingivitis is a bit more complicated than that. Gingivitis is actually the first stage of periodontitis, also known as periodontal disease or gum disease.

Now, what exactly is gum disease and what does it mean for your oral health? Gum disease is the infection of the soft tissue in your mouth – your gums. The severity of the infection determines what stage the infection is - which is where the different terms come in. If your dentist says you have gingivitis, that is the earliest stage of gum disease, while periodontitis generally refers to the later stages of gum disease.


If untreated, gum disease can cause a lot of problems for your mouth. The infection will potentially lead to cavities in the short term, and more serious tooth decay later down the line. Eventually the infection will cause your gum tissue to become so unhealthy it recedes, which can leave you needing gum grafting, or even experiencing tooth loss. The damage that gum disease can cause is not just limited to your mouth either. According to multiple studies, it may be detrimental to your overall health, with gum disease being linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even Alzheimer’s.


Gum disease can sound scary. But luckily it is very treatable in the early stages. Daily oral hygiene and dental cleanings are highly effective at reducing inflammation and infection in your gums (and preventing them too). If you have more severe gingivitis, your dentist might recommend a deep cleaning, or deep scaling. Deep cleanings target the plaque that is spread deeper under your gums to clean out the infected areas more aggressively. These cleanings are important to your treatment plan if you need help reversing gum disease and making your mouth healthy.


Yes, gum disease can have a substantial impact on your oral and overall health, The good news is that it’s both treatable and preventable through dental care and a consistent oral hygiene routine. So be sure to take care of your teeth with comprehensive daily brushing and flossing. If you are looking to take your brushing to the next level, make sure you have the right toothpaste!


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