Your Guide to Preventing and Treating Gum Disease
Too much plaque and tartar buildup can lead to gum disease, a serious infection that attacks your teeth and your overall health. At Lifetime Family Dental, we offer a variety of gum disease treatments as well as preventive care. Continue reading to learn how to protect your health and fight gum disease.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease (periodontitis) is an infection caused by bacteria buildup. The earliest stage of gum disease is gingivitis, which typically causes red, inflamed, and bleeding gums. As gum disease progresses, its effects on your mouth become much worse. It’s crucial that you treat gum disease as early as possible to prevent irreversible complications.
Letting gum disease go untreated leads to more painful conditions such as periodontal pockets. In the later stages of periodontitis, the gums begin to recede and pull away from your teeth, forming pockets that trap bacteria and food debris. These pockets can make eating painful and cause throbbing gums.
Another consequence of gum disease is tooth loss and bone loss. As the infection travels beneath the gum line, it attacks the jawbone. As your jaw weakens, your teeth lose their support and can become loose or fall out. And, if your periodontitis has caused substantial bone loss, implants to replace your missing teeth might not be an option.
How Does Gum Disease Affect Your Overall Health?
Gum disease doesn’t just affect your mouth—it can also weaken your overall health. Bleeding of the gums (a common symptom of gum disease) allows harmful bacteria to enter your bloodstream. The bacteria then travel throughout your body and attack other bones and organs.
As the bacteria spread through your bloodstream, they also cause inflammation, which can lead to serious health conditions like heart disease. The inflammation caused by gum disease can also worsen inflammatory diseases like kidney disease and arthritis. Preventing and treating gum disease protects both your oral and overall health.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
1: Brush and Floss Daily
Gum disease starts with the harmful bacteria in the plaque and tartar buildup on your teeth. A thorough, consistent oral hygiene routine can help you get rid of mouth bacteria and prevent gum disease.
A good oral hygiene routine includes:
- Gently brushing your teeth at least twice a day, for two minutes at a time.
- Flossing your teeth once a day
- Brushing your tongue
- Replacing your toothbrush every three months
- Using an alcohol-free mouthwash daily
2: Get Professional Teeth Cleanings
Attending your twice-a-year dental cleanings is essential for removing the bacteria that your toothbrush and floss can’t reach. Professional cleanings can also help treat and reverse the effects of gingivitis.
These appointments include an oral exam, which allows your dentist to catch any signs of gum disease and other oral problems. The sooner these issues are identified and treated, the better your chances of successful periodontal treatments will be. And, with early diagnosis, the treatment procedures will be less invasive.
3: Eat a Healthy Diet
A well-balanced diet promotes healthier teeth and helps prevent gum disease. Try to include the following nutrients in your regular diet:
- Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, and can be found in nuts, seeds, and fatty fish.
- Vitamin C promotes healthy gums and is found in citrus fruits and bell peppers.
- Vitamin D strengthens your immune system and can be found in salmon as well as milk and fortified orange juice.
Gum Disease Treatment
There are many types of gum disease treatments, but the best treatment for your case will depend on the stage of the disease. If it’s still in its early stages, you may be able to reverse gum disease with daily care. However, if the disease is more progressed, you will need professional deep cleanings and perhaps even surgery
Antibacterial Toothpaste and Mouthwash
If you’re suffering from gingivitis, your dentist may prescribe an antibacterial toothpaste and/or mouthwash. These products will help reduce the levels of bacteria in your mouth so you can get the infection under control. If you neglect your oral hygiene, this type of gum disease treatment will not be effective, and the infection will get worse.
Scaling and Root Planing
If you have moderate gum disease, you may need periodontal scaling and root planing. This non-surgical periodontal treatment involves a deep cleaning that removes plaque and tartar from your teeth below the gumline (scaling) and smooths out the surface of your tooth root (root planing). This process helps the gums reattach to the tooth root to prevent periodontal pockets from forming.
If the disease has progressed to its advanced stages, periodontal surgery may be required to reattach the gums to your teeth. First, the oral surgeon temporarily pulls your gums away from the roots to remove all of the plaque and tartar. Then, they smooth your tooth roots and surgically reattach the gums. If you have lost too much gum tissue or bone from the disease, you may also need a bone or gum tissue graft.
Gum Disease Prevention and Treatment in Gilbert, Arizona
If you notice that you have red, swollen, tender, receding, or bleeding gums, contact Lifetime Family Dental as soon as possible. Quick intervention is the best way to get gum disease under control. We provide a wide variety of gum disease treatments and preventative care to help you protect your teeth and stay healthy. Give us a call at 480-558-4331 today to schedule an appointment.
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (6/15/2022). Photo by Charles Postiaux on Unsplash