Periodontal disease (gum disease) is extremely common, affecting over fifty percent of all adult Americans over the age of 30. Even children and adolescents are not immune to this serious disorder that affects the teeth and the gums. If left untreated, it can lead to a long and unwelcome list of complications such as infections, tooth loss, and even health problems like heart disease, cancer, and death.
What makes this disease so tricky to diagnose is that it is often painless, which is why we here at Harmony Dental strongly recommend implementing a good oral hygiene regimen and scheduling routine checkups at our office to help prevent it.
What Can I Do if I Have Gum Disease?
For most people, gum disease is caused by poor oral hygiene. Your mouth is teeming with bacteria, and these germs are fed by your diet. Foods like sugar encourage bacteria to grow and flourish, and when they start to build up against your teeth and gums, you may start to notice a sticky, fuzzy white residue on your teeth. These bacteria give off acids and toxic byproducts that can lead to tooth decay and an infection in your gums. This infection is known as gum disease.
Gum disease has two degrees of severity. The earliest stages of it are known as gingivitis. When your gum disease is still in this stage, it is completely treatable and can be reversed. Signs that you may have gingivitis include a bad taste in your mouth, foul breath (halitosis), receding gums, blood in your saliva after you brush and floss, and red or swollen gums. Once your gum disease progresses, it becomes periodontitis or periodontal disease. At this point, it is unfortunately no longer curable. It now needs to be managed like a chronic disease.
Preventing Gum Disease
You can prevent gum disease at home by taking good care of your teeth. While many people may wonder what that may entail, it is pretty straightforward. To practice good oral hygiene, you need first to make sure you are brushing your teeth twice a day. You need to start with a pea-sized dollop of fluoridated toothpaste on a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brush your teeth gently at a 45-degree angle to your gums for at least two minutes.
You also need to floss your teeth at least once per day. Start with a clean piece of dental floss. It needs to be at least 18 inches in length. Work the floss up between your teeth and under your gumline to make sure you are removing all buildup and trapped food. You can follow up with antibacterial mouthwash to help keep your mouth clean and fresh.
If you have gum disease, you may be a candidate for a couple of different treatment options. One way we manage gum disease is with a treatment program called periodontal maintenance, which means we will have you return more often for cleaning. We may also advise scaling and root planing, which removes all hardened calculus and helps prevent gum disease from getting worse.
Another important way to prevent gum disease is by making sure you do not miss your appointments at our office. You need to see us every six months for a checkup and a cleaning. If you are ready for your next dental exam, or you would like to learn more about gum disease, please give us here at Harmony Dental a call at (541) 246-3250 today!