One of the more widespread dental health issues among adults today is gum disease. As a progressive issue that goes through several stages of severity, gum disease can be a bigger threat to some people’s smiles than it is to others. Typically, the difference lies in how successful you are at preventing gum disease, or at seeking treatment if you notice that it’s already developing. Fortunately, even if you do experience gum disease, you may still prevent it from causing extensive damage to your gums if you seek appropriate treatment fast enough.
Did you know that over 80% of Americans have some form of gum disease? A very sad survey recently published in Dentistry Today noted that 58% of dental patients did not feel that their dentist taught them how to prevent gum disease. You have probably heard of gingivitis but you may not know just how severe gum disease can become. Gum disease is linked to many overall health problems such as a stroke, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and diabetes. In addition, as gum disease goes untreated it progresses into a serious illness called periodontitis that is capable of eroding facial bones, teeth, and soft oral tissues. In fact, gum disease is the number one reason adults lose their teeth.
Ways That You Can Prevent Gum Disease
Your first line of defense against gum disease is good oral hygiene. When you brush your teeth twice daily, floss once daily, and rinse with an antiseptic or anti-plaque mouthwash, you are protecting your oral health. Removing the biofilm that forms on your teeth stops gum disease from infiltrating your mouth.
Eating a healthy diet can also fight gum disease. When you avoid refined sugars, sodium, and saturated fat, you are keeping your waistline and teeth healthy. Cheese, yogurt, peanuts, apples, lettuce, and celery can all clean your teeth, removing sugar, neutralizing acid, and preventing plaque buildup and gum disease.
Combined with proper oral hygiene and a balanced diet, regular dental checkups and cleanings will help safeguard your mouth. During a checkup, Dr. Fondriest and his hygienist can examine your mouth for signs of gum disease. With dental cleanings, his hygienist can remove the plaque from your teeth that your home dental hygiene routine cannot.
Preventing Gum Disease with regular checkups
The best prevention method is to visit Dr. James Fondriest regularly for examinations. At your dental cleaning, we will measure the space between your tooth and gum line. As tartar builds up, it causes your gums to recede from your teeth. Tartar buildup eventually inflames and infects the gum tissue. We keep an eye on this to determine whether you have gum disease. In addition, routine cleanings help remove tartar deposits and plaque buildup. When our dental hygienists remove tartar and plaque, it greatly reduces the threat of developing gum disease.
Routine oral hygiene to prevent gum disease is imperative too. You should be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. You should also floss your teeth thoroughly every day. When you brush and floss, you stimulate your gums, disrupt bacterial colonies, and remove most of the day’s plaque buildup. Also consider tongue scrapers which have been shown to be the most effective means of removing bacteria from the tongue.
Warning Signs of Gingivitis, the First Stage of Gum Disease
Many people fail to recognize the symptoms of gingivitis, because they are simply unsure what healthy gums should look and feel like. Learning how your gums should be, can help you spot warning signs of trouble, so you can seek help quickly to prevent the beginning of gum disease. This might allow for a less invasive treatment and still be able to help restore your oral health.
In general, healthy gums should be:
Light pink in color – dark red or deep purple gums can be indication of infection, as is blood present, either while brushing or flossing.
Firm, and fitted closely around the teeth – loosening gums are a definite indication of gum disease. Gums that are visibly inflamed or irritated are unhealthy and have a reduced ability to fight infection. The bacteria that causes gingivitis produce Interleukin 10 which reduces your immune response to gum bacteria.
Odorless – chronic bad breath is another common symptom of gingivitis. If no amount of dental hygiene can seem to improve your breath, it is time to talk to your dentist bout the potential need for treatment for gum disease. In some cases a thorough dental cleaning may be able to restore the gums’ health. In other cases, periodontal therapy may be necessary; this is a form of deep cleaning meant to rid the gums of harmful infections.
It takes consistency
The first stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, is a product of harmful oral bacteria infecting your gums. As they form plaque and tartar, certain bacteria can work their way underneath your gums to settle on your teeth roots. The accumulation of these microbes and the toxins they release are a constant, daily threat. Therefore, preventing gum disease requires constantly good hygiene and preventive dental care to be successful.
It also takes diligence
In addition to being consistent, preventing gum disease can sometimes require being diligent in keeping an eye on your oral health. If you notice that your gums are red, swollen, angry looking, or starting to recede from your teeth, then you should schedule a visit with your dentist as soon as possible. Each of these may be a sign of early gingivitis development.
It might not be too late
Once gum disease develops, it might not be reversible. However, if you treat it early enough, you may still prevent it from causing significant damage to your gum tissues and jawbone structure. Treating gum disease requires removing the harmful bacteria from underneath your gums and allowing healthy gum tissue to reattach to your teeth.
Learn How to Prevent Gum Disease
Gum disease may be prevalent for many people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t prevent it from threatening your smile. To learn more, schedule a consultation by calling us at 847-234-0517. We also proudly serve residents of Chicago and all surrounding communities in the Chicago Metro area.