If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, the bleeding should stop as your gums become healthier and tighter to your teeth. But bleeding gums may be a symptom of gum disease and should be brought to the attention of your dentist.
If you smoke or use spit tobacco, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to quit. Tobacco reduces your ability to fight infection and delays healing. Tobacco users are much more likely to develop gum disease than nonsmokers-up to six times more likely. They also have more serious gum disease that leads to tooth loss and that doesn't respond as well to treatment.5 Quitting is difficult. But many people find success through a combination of medicine, a stop-smoking program, and counseling. For more information on how to quit, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
Be sure to brush your teeth twice daily. Most people brush their teeth in the morning. However, it’s important to brush more than once a day. If you want to prevent and stop gum disease, brush after every meal.
When gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. In a person with periodontitis, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These small spaces between teeth and gums collect debris and can become infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line.
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to “periodontitis” (which means “inflammation around the tooth”). In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called “pockets”) that become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.
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