What do you think is the leading cause of tooth loss in American adults? “Well duh, tooth decay!” you may be thinking. But actually, it’s not. More people lose their permanent teeth to complications from gum disease than they do to tooth decay.
In fact, gum disease (or periodontal disease) is something of an epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control says that nearly half of Americans over the age of 30 are afflicted, and 70% over the age of 65! Those are startling statistics. But just because gum disease is common, it doesn’t have to be inevitable. Maintaining your gums properly can go far in preventing gum disease from taking hold — and halting and even reversing it once it does.
So if you’ve always thought of oral hygiene as being concerned with keeping your teeth clean, maybe it’s time to shift your thinking a bit. To maintain a full set of functional, healthy, and good-looking teeth, it’s necessary to take care of the entire mouth.
One important aspect of oral health is visiting the dentist at least twice per year for a routine cleaning and meticulous examination. If you live around Kennewick, WA, call Marineland Dental Care at 509-591-0515 to book an appointment.
Prevention, prevention, prevention
Preventing periodontal disease from taking hold in your mouth is not difficult if you understand what causes it and how to keep harmful bacteria from building up on your gums. Here are a few ways you can minimize your chances of getting gum disease.
- Brush your teeth twice per day and floss daily. It’s important to keep bacteria from forming sticky plaque on the teeth and around the gumline.
- Visit Dr. Hadley for examinations at least twice per year. A professional dental cleaning is the only way to get rid of all the plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth. Plus, your dentist may be able to spot early signs of periodontal disease even before you experience symptoms.
- Don’t smoke or use chewing tobacco. Tobacco makes you much more likely to develop gum disease, and it makes your gum disease more resistant to treatment.
- Eat a varied, nutrient-rich diet for a healthy body and healthy gums.
- Drink lots of water. Water is a good way to keep your mouth relatively clean between brushings.
- Chew sugarless gums. Chewing gum stimulates saliva production, which help wash out the mouth. It must be sugarless, though!
- Be aware of your risk. Do you have diabetes? A family history of gum disease? A dry mouth due to medication, disease, or other reason? Are you pregnant or undergoing hormonal changes? Any of these can make you more likely to develop gum disease. Be sure to discuss your personal risk factors with Dr. Hadley.
Gum Disease Symptoms
If you experience any of the following signs, you should make an immediate appointment at Marineland Dental Care. The earlier your gum disease is caught, the easier it will be to treat.
- Gums that bleed when your brush your teeth
- Gums that are swollen, red, or tender
- Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth that won’t go away
- Permanent teeth that seem loose
- Gums that are receding, or pulling away from the teeth
- Spaces between the teeth and gums
- A change in your bite, or the way your teeth fit together
Remember: healthy gums should be firm, taut around the teeth, and light pink in color. And they should never bleed.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
Treatment for gum disease varies widely and depends on how advanced your case has become. This is why it’s so important to catch it early.
Early-stage gum disease, or gingivitis, may need no professional treatment at all, beyond regular twice-yearly visits and detailed counseling on how to properly brush and floss. By practicing meticulous oral hygiene habits at home, you can typically bring your gums back to optimum health.
Once your gum disease has advanced to a later stage, or periodontitis, we may need to do an in-office deep-cleaning procedure called scaling and root planing. This removes all built-up tartar, plaque, and bacteria from above and below the gumline, plus smooths the root surfaces.
Very advanced cases, or ones that don’t respond to scaling and root planing, may require surgical interventions.
If you have been experiencing bleeding or other signs of gum disease, or if you are due for a routine checkup, pick up the phone and call Marineland Dental Care’s Kennewick, WA office at 509-591-0515. You may also get in touch through our online form.