Prevent Gum Disease

Gum disease is a serious problem that can result in tooth, bone, and soft tissue loss, and affect other parts of the body. It begins as gingivitis – inflammation of the gums which generally occurs when a film of bacterial plaque accumulates on and between the teeth.

If plaque is not removed, it can harden into tartar (calculus), near the gum line. Tartar can only be removed by professional dental deep cleaning. As plaque and tartar build-up, they eventually irritate the gums, resulting in infection around the base of the teeth.

Mild gingivitis is often painless and symptoms typically go unnoticed. However, left to its own devices, gingivitis can progress to the more serious conditions of periodontitis (gum disease) and advanced periodontitis.

In some cases, the blame for plaque-induced gingival disease cannot be laid at the door of the patient, when it’s caused by:

  • Aging. As we get older, our gums can become weaker. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reckon that more than 70 percent of people in the U.S. aged 65 and older have gum problems.
  • Other medical conditions. Some diseases – including diabetes, cancer, and HIV – are associated with a higher risk of gingivitis.
  • Medication. Certain medications – including cancer treatments and steroids – may increase the risk of gum infection.
  • Hormonal changes. Women’s gums can become more sensitive during puberty, the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause.
  • Family history. If your parents have suffered from gingivitis, you have a higher risk of developing it, too, probably because of the type of bacteria acquired during early life.
  • Stress. Anxiety makes it more difficult for the body – including the gums – to fight off infections.

Steps You Can Take to Avoid Gum Disease

The good news is that many other causes of gum disease – such as poor dental hygiene, a bad diet, and smoking – can be averted simply by changing your lifestyle.

Ensure Good Dental Hygiene

Your first line of defense against gum disease is regular brushing and flossing to stop plaque and tartar from building up in your mouth. Brush your teeth and tongue with a soft-bristled brush in the morning and just before bed, and floss at least once a day. Make sure your toothbrush fits your mouth comfortably while reaching all your teeth. If you’re susceptible to gum infections, use a fluoride toothpaste containing triclosan, which kills harmful bacteria.

An electric toothbrush can be particularly effective in helping to prevent gum disease because the rotation of the head promotes blood flow in the gums, which acts to ward off infection. An antibacterial mouth rinse after brushing and flossing will strengthen your oral health routine.

After brushing your teeth, rinse the brush and let it dry naturally by standing it, bristles uppermost, in a glass or toothbrush holder. Keeping your brush in a closed container promotes bacteria growth. You should replace a manual toothbrush or electric toothbrush head every three months.

The American Dental Association (ADA) says flossing daily is essential to remove bacteria and food particles that get trapped between teeth. If you find flossing a difficult task, disposable interdental brushes can provide an effective alternative.

Eat Healthy

A diet lacking adequate nutrition will weaken the body’s immune system, and the mouth can be a launchpad from which germs mount an onslaught on the rest of your body. A balanced diet with plenty of vegetables and fruit is important to sustain a healthy mouth that can ward off gum infections. In general, try to include foods high in vitamin C in your diet, while cutting back on sugars and starches.

Certain foods are really good for your gums. Celery and apples dislodge bits of food that collect along the gum line between your teeth. Packed with fiber, these foods take a lot of chewing, which boosts saliva production to wash away oral bacteria. Cheese, milk, and yogurts, which are high in calcium, help to strengthen bones in your mouth and the rest of your body. Dairy products also contain casein, a protein that combats acids that attack the gum tissue and tooth enamel.

Overeating can lead to obesity, increasing the risk of gum disease. The link between gum disease and obesity was established in 2009. Obese individuals are three times as likely to develop periodontitis as people of average weight. Sixty-seven percent of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Quit Smoking

Research shows that smoking may be one of the most serious risk factors in developing gum disease. Smoking can cause stained, swollen, and bleeding gums when toxins in cigarettes attack the soft tissue, making it easier for bacteria to spread. Smoking is also linked with many serious illnesses, such as lung disease, cancer, and heart problems, as well as numerous other health issues. If you smoke and want to kick the habit to improve your oral hygiene and overall health, ask your doctor or Fine Dentistry of Downtown Orlando about smoking cessation programs.

Why Regular Dental Exams are Important

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) says gum disease in the U.S. may be far more widespread than originally believed, and it recommends all adults to get an annual comprehensive periodontal evaluation (CPE) to spot any signs of gum infections.

If there is a problem, the periodontal assessment will allow for early intervention, involving only minimally invasive procedures such as scaling and root planing. If you skip CPEs, you run the risk of developing a serious, painful condition that may require surgery such as bone grafts. A thorough periodontal evaluation will also reveal any problems with the condition of your teeth, your bite, and the bone structure of the mouth.

Apart from an annual periodontal assessment, it’s also important to have regular general dental check-ups, which allow your dentist to look for signs of plaque and tartar build-up and check for any deep spaces between the gums and teeth (periodontal pockets), which typically indicate gum disease.

The dentists at Fine Dentistry of Downtown Orlando will routinely check for signs of gum disease and give you the most up-to-date and professional recommendations. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and put your mind at ease.