What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that invades deeper and deeper into your gums. Because it is typically painless in its early stages (gingivitis), it can easily evolve to an advanced stage before you become aware of any problems.
Plaque will build up on your teeth and along the gum line, then hardens into a rough, porous deposit referred to as tartar or calculus. Pockets can start to form between the teeth and your irritated gums. This is an ideal place for bacteria to collect, which can lead to other health problems such as cardiovascular disease. Once hardened, only your dentist has the tools to remove tartar.
In the advanced stages, periodontal disease can cause loss of bone structure and deterioration of gums which can even lead to your teeth falling out. In fact, gum disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults.
That’s why removing plaque with a rigorous daily hygiene routine of brushing and flossing as well as attending regular dental hygiene appointments are key for prevention – and for maintaining your oral health.
How can gum disease be prevented?
There are also some less obvious tips that may help you avoid gum disease or reduce your risk of getting it. You may want to:
Take inventory of your current medications - Certain medications can contribute to and aggravate gum disease, including antidepressants, heart medicines and oral contraceptives.
Increase your consumption of vitamins A and C - This is part of a healthy diet that can help prevent periodontitis. Conversely, cut sugary and starchy foods, which allow plaque to build.
Have dental disease and conditions treated right away - Correcting dental problems or oral health issues such as teeth grinding, and misaligned or crowded teeth can be beneficial. It can be more challenging to properly clean teeth that aren’t properly spaced, thus providing room for plaque to grow and thrive.
Gently massage your gums - Along with brushing and flossing regularly (at least twice a day for two minutes each time for brushing, and once daily for thorough flossing), show your gums some love by gently massaging them, which increases blood flow to the tissue.
Use fluoride toothpaste every day - This key ingredient removes the buildup of plaque bacteria along the gum line without irritating gums.
Stop smoking right away - Smoking is not only strongly associated with gum disease, it also makes it more difficult for your gums to heal if they get damaged, as smoking weakens the immune system.
Know your risks - Whether genetics, diet, age, smoking or other factors make you more susceptible to periodontitis, knowledge is power when it comes to reducing your risk and staying healthy.
Ask your dentist about periodontal disease treatment - If you do develop gum disease, the sooner your dentist can detect periodontitis, the better. That's because it's easier to treat gum disease in its earlier stages than when it has advanced to the point that you start to lose teeth or jaw bone tissue. Depending on how far the disease has progressed and its severity, there are surgical and non-surgical options for treatment.
Regular oral hygiene - Reducing your personal risk factors starts with proper oral hygiene and will go a long way in the fight to prevent gum disease. Our gums are as important as our teeth when it comes to our oral health, so it’s important not to neglect them.