The Best Methods Of Gum Disease Prevention
They always say that prevention is better than curing something, and that’s especially true of gum disease. Although people focus much of their dental attention on their teeth, adequate care of the gums is just as important. Gums serve a number of critical functions in the mouth, and research even indicates that infections of the gums are linked to other health conditions that would seem on the surface to have nothing to do with the mouth.
Moreover, a failure to care for the gums can result in a number of painful conditions that will only get worse if not taken care of right away. For many Tennesseans, gum disease is an unfortunate, and entirely avoidable, problem that has serious health implications. For these reasons, it’s highly recommended that you learn early in life the right habits and routines that will prevent gum disease and help ensure you have a healthy smile for a lifetime.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease, technically referred to as periodontal disease, describes an inflammatory condition in which the soft tissue surrounding the teeth and jaw become infected. In the early stages of gum disease this type of infection is called gingivitis, and is characterized by swollen and/or bleeding gums. As the infection worsens, it transitions into what is known as periodontitis. This later stage of gum disease can lead to much more severe problems, including the loss of teeth and a decaying of the jawbone.
According to a report from the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, nearly 50% of Americans who are at least 30 years of age suffer from gum disease. Among older Americans, the numbers are even worse, with an estimated 70% of people 65 years or above suffering from the disease. Globally, at least half a billion people currently have gum disease.
What causes gum disease?
When it comes to gum disease, the main culprit is bacteria. In fact, bacteria and the fight to prevent it are central to dental hygiene. Most people know about plaque, and the need for dentists to clean it off your teeth regularly, but did you realize that plaque is actually the result of bacteria mixing with sugary foods and other residue to create a sticky film on the teeth? If the plaque is not removed, it can harden and form what is known as tartar. It is also linked to a number of oral hygiene problems, including cavities and gingivitis.
In addition to sugary foods, other things that can lead to infections of the gums include smoking, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, genetic anomalies, and particular medications. The normal progression of gum disease starts with the build up of plaque prompting a bacterial infection of the gums. If left untreated, the infection can spread and lead to a deterioration in the enamel of the teeth and even the jawbones. The gums will dry and stiffen and gradually recede from the teeth, leading to the formation of pockets. In the worst cases, a person’s teeth will loosen and eventually require extraction.
What are the symptoms of gum disease?
A dentist will need to confirm several symptoms to ascertain whether a patient has some form of gum disease, which will typically require an inspection of the gum tissue and, in some cases, even x-rays to check if there is any bone loss surrounding the teeth. Other signs of gum disease include chronically bad breath, a swelling of the gums, and a tenderness of the soft tissue around the teeth, which can result in difficulty chewing. Patients may also show signs of a reddening of the gums, bleeding from the gums, receding gums, or even a loosening of the teeth.
If you find yourself with any of the previous symptoms, please contact your dentist as soon as possible.
How can you prevent gum disease?
Preventing gum disease is not rocket science. The same habits that you know you should already be doing are the best ways to avoid allowing the bacteria and plaque to build up that are the causes of gingivitis. This means brushing your teeth after every meal, flossing thoroughly and often, and rinsing with mouthwash. Food habits are also important. Reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, and avoid excess coffee, smoking, and starchy foods that make it easier for bacteria to take hold.
You should also be aware of the different risk factors that can make a person more prone to gum disease. Age is one, and as people become older, they are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease. Smoking and diet are also primary indicators of susceptibility. Other conditions that are associated with gum disease include heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, strokes, and even dementia.
How is gum disease treated?
In the early stages of gum disease, it can easily be treated with a thorough cleaning by your dentist. In fact, regular check ups and teeth polishing are an important part of gum disease prevention. In some cases, antibiotics may be necessary to keep the bacteria that lead to gum disease under control.
In more advanced stages of infection, surgery may be the next treatment. In the worse cases, when the bones have deteriorated and the teeth have become unstable, extraction may be the only remaining option. For all these reasons, rather than waiting for the worst, work with your dentist to prevent gum disease from occurring in the first place.
Your Nashville, Tennessee, Gum Disease Specialists
At Jody Jones, DDS, rather than treating gum disease and other oral conditions after they have had a chance to take hold, we prefer to work with patients to create the habits and routines that will make such treatments unnecessary. Our entire staff of dental professionals approaches their job with passion, and we make the health and well being of each and every one our patients our number one priority.
Our Nashville, Tennessee offices are equipped with the latest dental equipment and we offer the most advanced care in the region. Most importantly, you can rest easy knowing that you or your loved one will be treated like a member of our own family while you’re in our care.
Contact us today to schedule a visit.