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Gum Disease - Topic Overview

Your dentist or dental hygienist may take X-rays of your teeth to look for bone damage and other problems.

How is it treated?

If you have a mild case of gum disease, you will probably be able to take care of it by brushing and flossing your teeth every day and getting regular cleanings at your dentist's office.

If your gum disease has become worse and you have periodontitis, your dentist or dental hygienist will clean your teeth using a method called root planing and scaling. This removes the plaque and tartar buildup both above and below the gum line. You may also need to take antibiotics to help get rid of the infection in your mouth. If your gum disease is severe, you may need to have surgery.

How can you prevent gum disease?

Gum disease is most common in adults, but it can affect anyone, even children. So good dental habits are important throughout your life:

  • Brush your teeth 2 times a day, in the morning and before bedtime, with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss your teeth once each day.
  • Visit your dentist for regular checkups and teeth cleaning.
  • Don't use tobacco products.

If you think you have a mild case of gum disease, make sure to take care of it before it gets worse. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy and getting regular checkups from your dentist can keep the disease from getting worse.

Having gum disease may increase a pregnant woman's risk of having a premature, low-birth-weight baby.1 Also, studies have found a direct link between heart disease and the bacteria that cause gum disease.2 So taking good care of your teeth and gums may have benefits beyond keeping your mouth healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learning about gum disease:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

Ongoing concerns:

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 05, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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