Take a proactive approach to combating gum disease.
Here’s one more reason to celebrate healthy gums: it appears to have a link to improved heart health. Patients who’ve had their periodontal disease treated also showed lower risks for diabetes.
What’s even more motivating is that gum disease is highly preventable. It’s also treatable, and in many cases, even reversible.
Ready to learn more about periodontal disease and how to prevent it? Then keep reading, as that’s exactly what this post is all about.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is another term for gum disease or periodontitis. It is an infection of the periodontal tissues, which include the gums or gingiva.
Left untreated, the infection can cause severe damage to your mouth’s sensitive tissues. The disease can even spread to the bones underneath the gums.
How common is it?
In the US, almost half of adults 30 years and older have some form of gum disease. It’s more common in older adults, though, affecting up to 70% of people aged 65 and older.
Of these individuals, 30% have moderate periodontal disease. That’s on top of the 8.5% of adults who deal with severe gum disease.
Note, however, that diseases of the gum can affect anyone, regardless of age. Children and young teens are also at risk of such conditions. One study even found that at some point, over 80% of US adolescents have had gingivitis!
What causes gum diseases?
Many cases of gum disease trace back to poor oral hygiene. One study, for instance, found that 30% of millennials brushed their teeth only once a day. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough—at the very least, everyone should brush their teeth twice a day.
That’s because a lack of proper oral hygiene makes it easier for bacterial plaque to form on the teeth. From here, the plaque can then drill down onto the teeth, causing tooth pain and decay. Decayed teeth can irritate the gums, which can then lead to gum disease.
Unremoved plaque can also harden into a substance called tartar or dental calculus. Unlike plaque, which is initially translucent, tartar is yellowish or brownish in color. This hardened plaque usually forms above the gumline, right by the base of the teeth.
Calculus is similar to plaque in that it can also cause periodontal disease.
A deficiency in vitamin C may also make a person more susceptible to gum disease. Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may also lead to gum disease.
A Breakdown of the Stages of Gum Disease
There are four stages of gum disease, with the first (most minor) being gingivitis. It’s at this point that your dentist in Duvall can reverse the periodontal disease. On the other hand, leaving it untreated can result in advanced periodontitis.
To determine if you have gum disease, let’s take a closer look at each of its stages.
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, affecting only the gingiva. The gingiva is the group of tissues that surround the base of your upper and lower teeth.
Gingivitis causes gingival inflammation. Aside from gum swelling, other common symptoms include tender or painful gums. Your gums may also be quick to bleed.
If you notice these symptoms, you can try a homemade salt-water rinse. One study found that gargling with a saline solution helped heal inflamed gums. It’s also a good time to pay your dentist a visit to confirm that you only have gingivitis.
Slight Periodontal Disease
Gum inflammation can occur within just a few days from the development of gingivitis. Within two to three weeks, the swelling will worsen into slight periodontal disease.
At this point, your gums may already recede or pull away from the teeth. You may also notice an increase in bleeding when you probe the affected gums.
Even if it hurts, you should continue brushing and flossing at least twice a day. However, now’s an even better time to see your dentist for gum disease treatment. This way, the oral health care professional can give your gums a deep cleaning treatment.
Moderate Periodontal Disease
During this stage, at least two of your teeth have already lost a minimum of 4 mm of gum attachment. This often means that the teeth held in place by the diseased gums are now moving. Pain and even more bleeding in the gums are also common at this point.
Don’t delay a visit to the dentist any longer—you may already need emergency dentistry services. Putting off a dental appointment at this stage of gum disease can result in tooth loss.
Advanced Periodontal Disease
This is the worst stage of gum disease, claiming the highest number of permanent teeth. That’s because, at this point, the gums that hold the teeth in place have already deteriorated. It’s also likely that the disease has already caused at least 33% of bone loss.
You’re also likely to experience severe pain and halitosis (bad breath). Your affected teeth will also move and “jiggle” a lot more. Ultimately, even the slightest pressure can make them break off, leading to tooth loss.
In this case, you may already need to undergo a gum graft procedure. Your dentist may use a method called “tunnel technique” to correct the damage to your gums. Unlike traditional gum surgeries, this technique is far less invasive.
Prioritizing Gum Disease Prevention
Granted, today’s innovative periodontal disease treatments involve less time and discomfort. However, a good dentist can help you prevent the need for these procedures in the first place. Practicing good oral habits at home will also help you keep your gums firm, snug, and healthy pink!
Scheduling twice-a-year dental checkups and exams will also help you maintain disease-free gums.
For starters, regular dental visits involve a thorough cleaning of the teeth and gums. This, in turn, removes all tartar build-up on your teeth and gums. Without dental calculus, you’ll have lower risks of developing gum disease.
Also, keep in mind that as you age, your risk for oral conditions, like periodontitis, increases. You may not notice it right away, but always being under stress can also contribute to gum disease. Conversely, having gum disease can make your stress levels skyrocket.
That’s all the more reason to be best buds with your dentist. This way, your oral health care provider can stay on top of any changes to your teeth and gums. During every visit, they’ll make sure to check for signs of gum disease and then treat it on the spot.
Of course, you should still brush and floss at least twice a day, or if possible, 30 minutes after every meal. You may also want to use a copper tongue cleaner, as it can kill many oral pathogens. You should also use a gentle but cleansing mouthwash to help rid your mouth of harmful bacteria.
All these are even more important if you smoke. If you can, quit ASAP, as smoking makes you twice as likely to develop gum disease.
You and your dentist can keep gum disease at bay.
As common as periodontal disease is, in most cases, it’s completely preventable. However, you also need to do your part and practice proper at-home oral hygiene habits.
Don’t forget to set a date with your dentist every six months! The more often you see your oral health care provider, the earlier they can spot and treat gum disease.
Ready to have your teeth and gums thoroughly checked for signs of disease? Then our team of oral health care experts here at Duvall Dental Center will be happy to help! Connect with us now to know more about our gum disease treatment and other services.