Periodontal disease, or gum disease, affects not only your oral health, but your overall wellbeing. Today, our Etobicoke dentists define periodontitis and offer tips on prevention.
What is periodontitis (gum disease)?
Gum disease, also called periodontitis, slowly affects your gums over time. It typically starts painlessly as gingivitis and can progress without noticeable symptoms until it reaches an advanced stage.
Plaque forms on your teeth and along the gum line, hardening into a rough substance known as tartar or calculus. This leads to pockets between your teeth and irritated gums where bacteria gather, which can contribute to health problems like cardiovascular disease. Once plaque hardens, only a dentist can remove it using specialized tools.
As periodontitis worsens, it can cause bone loss and deterioration of the gums, eventually resulting in tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is a major reason why adults lose their teeth.
That's why it's crucial to prevent gum disease by following a daily routine of brushing and flossing, and by regularly seeing your dental hygienist. These habits are essential for preventing gum disease and keeping your oral health in check.
How can I prevent periodontitis?
Here are some additional tips that may help you prevent gum disease or reduce your risk of developing it:
Consider your medications. Certain medications, such as antidepressants, heart medicines, and oral contraceptives, can contribute to or worsen gum disease.
Increase your intake of vitamins A and C. These vitamins are important for a healthy diet and can help prevent periodontitis. On the other hand, try to cut back on sugary and starchy foods, as they promote plaque buildup.
Address dental issues promptly. Treat dental problems or oral health issues like teeth grinding, misaligned teeth, or crowded teeth. It can be more challenging to clean teeth properly when they are not aligned, leaving more room for plaque to accumulate.
Give your gums a gentle massage. In addition to regular brushing and flossing (at least twice a day for two minutes each time for brushing, and thorough flossing once a day), gently massage your gums. This can improve blood flow to the gum tissue.
Use toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride toothpaste effectively removes plaque bacteria along the gum line without causing irritation.
Quit smoking. Smoking is strongly associated with the development of gum disease and weakens the immune system, making it more difficult for your gums to heal if they are damaged.
Be aware of your risk factors. Whether it's genetics, diet, age, smoking, or other factors, understanding your susceptibility to periodontitis can help you take proactive steps to prevent it and maintain good health.
Bonus tip: Consult your dentist about periodontal disease treatment. Early detection of periodontitis is beneficial for effective treatment. It's easier to address gum disease in its early stages before tooth loss or jaw bone tissue damage occurs. Treatment options vary depending on the severity and progression of the disease and can include surgical and non-surgical approaches.
By consistently practicing good oral hygiene and reducing personal risk factors, you can greatly contribute to the prevention of gum disease. Remember, our gums are just as important as our teeth for overall oral health, so taking care of them should not be overlooked.