What is periodontitis (gum disease)?
Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is a progressive condition that gradually affects your gums. The early stages of the disease, known as gingivitis, are typically painless, which makes it difficult to detect any problems until it has advanced. Plaque builds up on your teeth and along the gum line, hardening into rough, porous deposits called tartar or calculus.
This leads to pockets forming between the teeth and inflamed gums, which can harbor bacteria and cause other health issues such as cardiovascular disease. Only your dentist can remove hardened plaque. If left untreated, periodontitis can cause bone loss and gums deterioration, ultimately resulting in tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is one of the most common causes 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.
How can I prevent periodontitis?
Here are a few less apparent suggestions that can aid in preventing gum disease or minimizing the likelihood of contracting it. Consider the following:
Take inventory of your medications. It's important to know that certain medications, such as antidepressants, heart medicines, and oral contraceptives, can contribute to and worsen gum disease.
Increase your consumption of vitamins A and C, Incorporating foods that promote a healthy diet can aid in the prevention of periodontitis. On the other hand, it is advisable to limit consumption of sugary and starchy foods as they can contribute to plaque buildup.
Have dental issues treated quickly. Don't ignore dental problems like teeth grinding or misaligned teeth. They can cause discomfort and make cleaning harder, leading to plaque buildup. Address them as soon as possible.
Gently massage your gums. Brush and floss regularly, at least twice a day for two minutes and once a day respectively. Massaging your gums gently can also help improve blood flow and care for your oral health.
Use fluoride toothpaste. This vital component effectively eliminates the accumulation of bacteria-causing plaque along the gum line without causing any irritation to the gums.
Quit smoking. The habit of smoking is strongly linked to the development of gum disease and it also hinders the healing process of damaged gums. This is because smoking weakens the immune system.
Know your risks. Being aware of the various factors that make an individual more prone to periodontitis, such as genetics, diet, age, and smoking, can empower one to take necessary precautions and maintain good oral health.
Bonus: Ask your dentist about periodontal disease treatment. Detecting periodontitis early is crucial for effective treatment. Your dentist can detect it in its early stages, making it easier to treat than when it has advanced to the point of tooth or jaw bone tissue loss. Depending on the disease's severity and progression, surgical and non-surgical options are available for treatment.
Regular oral hygiene - Taking steps to reduce your personal risk factors can greatly help prevent gum disease. It's crucial to remember that our gums are just as significant as our teeth in maintaining good oral health, and as such, they should not be neglected.