Brush Up On Your Knowledge Around Gum Disease


Gum disease is rife in the U.S. with almost half of people over the age of 30 experiencing gum disease (according to the ADA). During National Gum Care Month in September, Dr. Fitzpatrick (“Dr. Fitz”) would like to highlight the importance of taking care of your gums.


Gum disease is the inflammation of the tissue that supports your teeth. Without this strong foundation, you can imagine what happens next… that’s right, tooth loss. This can be extremely anxiety-inducing for patients so it’s important to understand how you can improve your gum health.


Gum disease is caused by a sticky film of bacteria (plaque) that is constantly forming on your teeth and is particularly worsened by eating sugary and starchy food. If plaque is not removed properly, it can harden and lead to calculus (tartar) build-up along and under your gum line.


Symptoms and Risk Factors for Gum Disease


Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, can happen to anyone. However certain risk factors can cause you to be more susceptible. This includes:


  • Having poor oral hygiene

  • Having a poor diet

  • Smoking / chewing tobacco

  • Having crowded or malaligned teeth

  • Having diabetes

  • Being pregnant


Although you can have no symptoms, here are some common telltale signs that you should be aware of:

  • Red or swollen gums

  • Tender or painful gums

  • Bleeding gums when flossing or brushing

  • Persistent bad breath

  • Constant bad taste in your mouth

  • Change in the alignment of your teeth


5 Steps to Avoid Gum Disease


  1. Daily Brushing and Flossing: Brush your teeth after every meal (or at least twice a day) to remove excess plaque. Food gets caught between your teeth and gums, so it’s important to floss too.

  2. Book Your Dentist Appointment at Solstice Smiles Dental: Symptoms of gum disease can go unnoticed, so it’s important to have check-ups at least twice a year so Dr. Fitz can examine your teeth and gums and ensure there’s no underlying disease.

  3. Professional Cleaning: Even if you brush and floss, it’s still important to have professional cleanings at least twice a year to remove excess plaque and calculus from around your teeth and gums.

  4. Healthy Lifestyle: Not smoking and a healthy diet, low in sugar can reduce the risk of periodontal disease.

  5. Straighten Your Teeth: Crooked or overlapping teeth can make it harder to brush and floss effectively. Invisalign might be considered to straighten your teeth and make it easier in the long term to have a healthy smile.


Gum disease can come in various severities — gingivitis being the mildest and reversible with good oral hygiene and dental cleaning, and periodontitis which can cause tooth loss and in severe cases lead to diabetes or stroke. Therefore it’s important to come to see Dr. Fitz at our conveniently located office in Petworth so she can examine your teeth and identify any early signs of gum disease. Dr. Fitz is known for her comprehensive but gentle dentistry and can accommodate anyone’s anxieties about having dental work. Get in touch with our team today if you have any questions about gum disease.