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Gum disease is an infection of the gums caused by bacteria found in the plaque and tartar on your teeth. Brushing and flossing every day, eating a healthy balanced diet, and seeing your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups can help prevent gum disease, and easily treat it, if it is caught early enough.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to gum disease beyond bacteria and plaque. There may be a genetic link, but good oral hygiene can still keep gum disease at bay. If your teeth are not properly aligned or you have braces or other dental work, it may be more difficult to reach the areas where plaque and tartar can accumulate. Your dentist or orthodontist can help you address this issue. If you smoke, or chew tobacco, you increase the amount of tartar on your teeth, and therefore increase your chances of developing gum disease. If gum disease does set in, the chance of bone loss also increases.

When a person goes through puberty, menopause or becomes pregnant, the hormonal changes can also increase the risk of gum disease. Diabetes, HIV and rheumatoid arthritis can contribute to gum disease as well. Medications to treat high blood pressure and depression can cause dry mouth, which can contribute to gum disease. Immunosuppressants, and some some seizure medications can be factors. For these reasons, it is important to discuss any medications and medical conditions with your dentist, even if they are not directly related to your oral health.

If have noticed that your gums are swollen or tender, or that they bleed when you brush and floss, you make an appointment to see Dr. Richard Mantoan at Southland Smiles in Flossmoor, Illinois. Dr. Mantoan can evaluate your gums and recommend a course of treatment. Call 708-794-4253 today for an appointment.