Periodontal disease can negatively affect our oral and overall physical health. Today, our Meteghan dentists tell us more about periodontitis and offer tips on prevention.
What is periodontitis (gum disease)?
Periodontitis (gum disease) is a condition that gradually worsens as it spreads through your gums. Because it is typically painless in its early stages (gingivitis), it can easily develop to a more advanced stage before problems become apparent.
Plaque gathers and hardens on your teeth and along your gum line, becoming a rough, porous deposit called tartar or calculus. Pockets form between the teeth and irritated gums, and bacteria collect here, which can lead to other health problems like cardiovascular disease. Once solidified, only your dentist can use the right tools and methods to safely remove plaque.
In more advanced stages, periodontitis can lead to loss of bone structure and deterioration of gums, and potentially even tooth loss. Periodontitis, in fact, 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.
Are there ways I can prevent periodontitis?
There are some tips that may not be as well-known as basic (but necessary) brushing and flossing. These guidelines could help you avoid gum disease or reduce your risk of getting it. You should consider the following:
Take inventory of your medications. Particular medications can contribute to and exacerbate gum disease, (e.g. antidepressants, heart medicines, oral contraceptives).
Increase your vitamin A and C intake. These are part of a nutritious diet that can help reduce the likelihood of periodontitis. Additionally, it is recommended to cut sugary and starchy foods, which allow plaque to build.
Quickly see to dental issues. See a dental professional about oral health issues such as teeth grinding, misaligned or crowded teeth. This reduces the challenge of properly cleaning teeth and deters plaque and tartar buildup.
Gently massage your gums. Brushing and flossing daily (twice a day for brushing, once for thorough flossing), show your gums some extra care by gently massaging them, which increases blood flow to the tissue.
Use fluoride toothpaste. This key ingredient slows tooth decay by slowing tooth enamel breakdown while bonding to damaged enamel and attracting strengthening minerals (e.g. calcium) to help restore the tooth.
Quit smoking. Smoking is not only strongly associated with the development of gum disease, but it hinders your gums' ability to heal from damage since smoking weakens the immune system.
Know your risks. Genetics, diet, age, smoking or other factors could make you more or less prone to periodontitis. Knowledge is power when it comes to reducing your risk and staying healthy.
Ask your dentist about periodontal disease treatment. 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 severe stages that could affect your teeth and jaw. Depending on how far the disease has progressed and its severity, there are surgical and non-surgical options for treatment.
Regular oral hygiene. Keeping up with your oral health routine, in addition to reducing your personal risk factors, will go a long way in the prevention of gum disease. Our gums are as important as our teeth when it comes to our oral health, so it’s important not to neglect them.