Gum disease —  also known as “periodontitis” or periodontal disease — is caused by a bacterial infection around your teeth. While your mouth naturally has thousands of different types of bacteria, it’s excessive levels of plaque biofilm that’s the true culprit. It takes thoroughly removing plaque on a regular basis to prevent it from causing an infection that leads to swollen, bleeding gums.

Does Brushing your teeth help fight Gum Disease?

Tooth brushing is only the start. While it’s important to brush gently along the gum lines to lift away superficial plaque, it’s also essential to floss below the gums and between teeth to remove what a brush can’t reach. Even with daily flossing, there will be some plaque particles left behind. Within about 24 hours, that soft plaque will calcify and turn into what most people refer to as “tartar.” That’s why it’s so important to see your hygienist for regular cleanings. During this professional cleaning, the tartar will be removed and smooth tooth surfaces left behind. Otherwise, the tartar would continue to harbor bacteria that chronically irritate the gums and cause them to detach from the tooth.

When should I see a Dentist for Periodontal Disease? 

Early gum infections like gingivitis can usually be reversed through dedicated brushing and flossing, with twice yearly cleanings. But if you’ve fallen behind on your hygiene routine, you may need to see a gum specialist to help you get your mouth back in shape. Otherwise it’s physically impossible to remove the infection deep below your gums.

Can you inherit bad breath from your parents? 

While bacteria that cause gum disease can be spread through kissing, sharing food, etc., it is still an infection that can be managed. Just because your parents had to have their teeth pulled at age 30 doesn’t mean that you will. You have better access to dental care than they likely did!