What is periodontitis and how can it affect my health?
Periodontitis (gum disease) is a condition which occurs when you have not performed adequate oral hygiene. The earliest stage of gum disease comes in the form of gingivitis and will progress slowly until late-state periodontitis. You may not have any serious symptoms until the condition is advanced.
With periodontitis, the plaque in your mouth that isn't properly cleaned away will harden and become calculus. Pockets form between the teeth and irritated gums, and bacteria collect here, which can lead to other health problems such as cardiovascular disease. at this point, you will be unable to remove the deposits yourself and the dentist will need to use special tools to complete the task.
In its advanced stages, periodontitis can cause loss of bone structure and deterioration of gums - eventually even tooth loss. Gum disease happens to be the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
That’s why removing plaque with a rigorous daily hygiene routine of brushing and flossing as well as attending regular dental hygiene appointments are key for prevention – and for maintaining your oral health.
What are some ways to prevent gum disease?
Here, our dentists offer some other ways that you can help prevent gum disease from developing including:
Take note of your meds: Certain medications can contribute to and aggravate gum disease, including antidepressants, heart medicines and oral contraceptives.
Get more Vitamin A & C: These are both part of a healthy diet that can help prevent periodontitis. Conversely, cut sugary and starchy foods, which allow plaque to build.
Address dental concerns right away: Correct dental problems or oral health issues such as teeth grinding, misaligned or crowded teeth. It can be more challenging to properly clean teeth that aren’t properly spaced, thus providing room for plaque to grow and thrive.
Massage your gums when brushing: Along with brushing and flossing regularly (at least twice a day for two minutes each time for brushing, and once daily for thorough flossing), show your gums some love by gently massaging them, which increases blood flow to the tissue.
Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride: This key ingredient removes the buildup of plaque bacteria along the gum line without irritating gums.
Don't pick up smoking, and quit if you already do: Smoking is not only strongly associated with the onset of gum disease, it makes it more difficult for your gums to heal once they’re damaged, as smoking weakens the immune system.
Be aware of your genetic/lifestyle risk factors: Whether genetics, diet, age, smoking or other factors make you more susceptible to periodontitis, knowledge is power when it comes to reducing your risk and staying healthy.
Check if your dentist offers specialized periodontal treatments: The earlier your dentist can detect periodontitis (if you do get it), the better. That's because it's easier to treat gum disease in its earlier stages than when it has advanced to the point that you start to lose teeth or jaw bone tissue. Depending on how far the disease has progressed and its severity, there are surgical and non-surgical options for treatment.
By keeping up with routine oral hygiene, you can help prevent gum disease from developing. Our gums are as important as our teeth when it comes to our oral health, so it’s important not to neglect them.