Cavities and gum disease are two of the most common oral health problems you might encounter in your life, and even though prevention is basically the same for both, they are two very different problems. Further, there seems to be a misconception that you can’t have gum disease if you don’t have cavities, but this simply isn’t the case. To help sort all this out and give you the essential information you need to prevent cavities and gum disease, here’s what you need to know about these two oral health issues.
Cavities and Gum Disease Can Exist Independently in Your Mouth
You can prevent both cavities and gum disease with good oral hygiene habits like regular brushing and flossing. However, cavities and gum disease are very different oral health problems, and just as you can have cavities without gum disease, so too can you have gum disease without the presence of cavities.
Exploring the Causes of Gum Disease and Cavities
Gum disease typically refers to gingivitis and periodontitis, which are infections that afflict the gums. Gum disease happens when the bacteria present in plaque—a sticky film that develops in the mouth and builds up on the teeth—gather around the gumline, multiply, and cause irritation such as bleeding, swelling, and tenderness,
Cavities, on the other hand, refer to tooth decay that happens when bacteria in your mouth find their way into small openings or holes in the enamel in your teeth. Plaque is dangerous because the acid in it eats away at the holes in your teeth even more, and makes the bacteria difficult to remove from their hiding place. As the bacteria multiply and feed, the tooth decay becomes worse as the holes get larger, and eventually, the decay develops into a cavity.
Lots of Bacteria Can Cause Oral Hygiene Problems
Bacteria naturally exist everywhere in our bodies, including the mouth, and they usually don’t present any problems. But when conditions are right, and the bacteria aren’t kept in check, that can lead to issues like cavities and gingivitis. But another reason why cavities and gingivitis don’t necessarily cause each other is that different bacteria are usually responsible for these separate issues. In other words, the bacteria that cause cavities don’t cause gum disease and vice versa. As such, it’s possible to have gum disease even if you don’t have cavities.
Gum disease can lead to serious issues like sensitive teeth, tooth loss, receding gums, and more, so it’s important to be informed about gum disease and be able to recognize the symptoms. If you’re experiencing bleeding, swollen, or tender gums, then book an appointment with your dentist immediately. If left unchecked, gingivitis can lead to an even more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis. Similarly, if you suspect you have a cavity, talk to your Nashua, NH dentists about getting it filled because an ignored cavity can continue to grow and cause more tooth decay and pain.