Brushing and flossing our teeth regularly each day not only helps maintain a sparkling smile but, more importantly, aids in the prevention of gum disease, formally known as periodontal disease and the ensuing risks it can present to our general health. At Aplus Dental Hygienist College we know that periodontal disease is most often preventable but has been linked to a range of serious health problems if not kept in check. So, let’s have a closer look.
What exactly is gum disease?
Periodontal or gum disease includes:
Gingivitis – This may or may not give you some discomfort but its most telling signs are red, swollen and/or bleeding gums, caused primarily by insufficient oral hygiene. The good news is that gingivitis is treated and reversed with regular visits to a dental hygienist and proper oral home care.
Periodontitis – A condition that can be caused when gingivitis is left untreated. It develops when plaque spreads and grows below the gum line creating toxins that will further irritate the gums. These toxins set up an inflammatory response causing the body’s immune system to fight back and attack the tissues and bone that support the teeth. The results are that gum lines can separate from the teeth, creating additional spaces that can become infected and the problem compounds.
What is gum disease caused by?
Bacteria from plaque and tartar build up is the leading cause but it’s not the only culprit. Other reasons an individual may develop gum disease include:
- Cigarette smoking is known to be a leading risk factor for the development and/or progression of periodontal disease.
- Age – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those who are 65 years of age and older have the highest rates of periodontal disease
- Teeth grinding or jaw clenching during sleep often places unnecessary force on the tissues that support our teeth and can contribute to their break down
- Certain medications such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants and some prescribed for heart disease. Always advise your dental hygienist of the medications you take and why you take them.
- Stress is a risk factor for periodontal disease as research has proven that it can impair the body’s ability to fight infection.
- An unhealthy diet or obesity – A lack of vital nutrition can affect the body’s immune system, making it difficult to fight infection. Obesity makes the list because it can be an indication of poor nutrition
- Pregnancy – Hormonal changes can lead to increased blood circulation to the gums and in turn cause further irritation.
- Genetics – Research shows that some individuals can be susceptible to gum disease regardless of great oral care. Thorough examination and discussion with your dental hygienist can help to reveal if you fall into this category.
What are the gum disease warning signs I need to be aware of?
- gums that are red, swollen or tender
- bleeding of the gums while brushing or flossing the teeth or from eating hard food
- persistent bad breath that’s not relieved by regular brushing or mouth washes
- an abscessed tooth
- receding gumline and the tooth sensitivity it may cause
- teeth that become loose or perhaps even fall out without apparent injury
- presence of infection (most notably characterized by pus) between your gums and teeth
- recurring sores in your mouth
- your “bite pattern” seems off
- partial dentures may not fit as they used to
If you have any of the above-listed symptoms, make an appointment today with the Aplus Dental Hygiene Clinic.
If you have a periodontal disease, your dental hygienist might recommend:
- Scaling for plaque and calculus (plaque that has hardened) removal
- A medicinal mouth rinse, combined with a regular schedule of visits for cleanings, to help kill the bacteria in your mouth
- X-rays that could identify tooth decay and/or bone loss
How can I prevent the development of gum disease?
If you are a smoker, ask Aplus Dental Hygienists how they can help you to quit. Maintaining good oral hygiene habits, primarily, regular brushing and use of dental floss, is the best way to prevent or improve gum disease. But that can’t substitute for regular cleanings and checkups by a dental hygienist. If you are worried that you may be developing a gum disease, book an appointment today with the Aplus Dental Hygiene Clinic.