What You Need to Know About Gum Disease

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, more than 4 in 10 U.S. adults age 30 and older have some form of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. Along with tooth decay, gum disease is the biggest threat to dental health.

Types of gum disease and what they look like

Early stage gum disease is called gingivitis. The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral health, which results in red and swollen gums. Other symptoms include bad breath and bleeding gums when brushing or flossing.

“There's a very tight band around the gums,” says Vera WL Tang, clinical assistant professor of periodontics and dental implants at New York University School of Dentistry. “When irritated, it swells and creates a gap between the tooth and gum. It can grow larger, allowing food and bacteria to become trapped and embedded around the tooth.

Preventing gingivitis depends on oral hygiene and keeping your teeth clean,” Dr. Tang said. Gingivitis is usually treatable if caught early. Treatment usually involves a thorough professional cleaning called a scaling. The Mayo Clinic notes that this condition usually goes away if you maintain good oral hygiene and get regular checkups.

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