Gum disease is prevalent in about 50% of the population, but thankfully, it can be treated. Let’s take a look at what it is and what can be done.
Gum disease is most commonly seen amongst people who do not practice good oral health habits. If people are also involved in any of these activities, the risk increases:
- Excessive Alcohol Consumption
- Diets low in raw vegetables
- Unmanaged Diabetes
- Drug use
Gingivitis and Periodontitis
Gingivitis is a disease that can be treated and usually eliminated. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums when food and other particulates are trapped in the space between gums and the teeth. It can cause a swelling of the gums and as it worsens lead to bleeding of the gums.
The treatment for Gingivitis is to improve your general oral hygiene using three steps.
- Brushing your teeth twice a day is a start.
- Flossing your teeth as soon as possible after eating is a strong deterrent to the buildup of plaque on and around the teeth.
- Get routine cleanings every six months by a Dentist or Dental Hygienist who can reach areas not easily accessible by floss.
These three steps and drinking sufficient water will usually address Gingivitis when they become a routine practice. Eating certain fruits such as apples may also have a positive impact for cleaning your teeth and gums. At your next dental visit discuss the causes and home health routines you can use to prevent or eliminate Gingivitis.
Prolonged Gingivitis or an insufficient oral hygiene regimen can lead to Periodontitis. Periodontitis is a condition where there is bacterial buildup between the gums and the teeth accompanied by a hardening of the plaque into a substance called calculus (not the mathematics). This hardened plaque attaches itself to the teeth and gums, and the bacteria begin to eat away at the gums, bones and the tissue that connects them. Once Periodontitis occurs a more active treatment is required, and the condition may become permanent.
Mild Periodontitis is treated with a deeper cleaning technique called scaling and root planing which is much more invasive than your routine dental cleaning. This process removes the bacteria and irritants and promotes the regeneration of lost gum tissue, healing of the connective tissue and prevents bone loss.
Advanced Periodontitis occurs if these treatments are not administered or if after they are, the routine oral hygiene is not maintained. This condition results in moderate to severe gum loss, significant damage to the connective tissue and loss of bone material. The results of these circumstances can lead to teeth moving or shifting place in the mouth eventually tooth loss.
Advanced Periodontitis is treated by gum surgery where the gums are surgically cut away from the teeth, infected materials are removed, and the gums reattached with stitches to allow them to heal in place. Generally, this is done on one side of the mouth at a time. The surgery can last more than an hour while the patient is awake in the dental chair. (If you must go through this, bring a cell phone with your favorite music to help pass the time and help you relax). Once the surgery is completed a packing material will be inserted around the gums to protect them from harm and to help them heal. That area of the mouth will need to be avoided when brushing or flossing to give the area time to heal, and a special mouthwash is prescribed to reduce the possibility of infection. Post-surgery your dental visits for cleaning and monitoring will go from twice a year to four times a year to ensure that you are healing and maintain a healthy dental regimen.
Remember the basics of good oral hygiene to prevent Gingivitis and Periodontitis:
- Brush your teeth morning and night
- Floss between meals
- Drink sufficient water to maintain the proper PH balance in your mouth and body
- Use mouthwash to add additional cleaning support in killing bacteria
- Use a dental irrigation tool to help exercise your gums with a mix of 50% water and 50% mouthwash if you have been diagnosed with gum disease
- Get routine cleanings by a dental professional twice a year
- Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about what foods and oral care products are best for you
Your teeth are an important part of your good looks and overall health. Their use in preparing your food for digestion is essential for the body to easily break down the food in preparation for processing. Your dental professionals will work with you to educate you on proper care techniques. Routine visits to the dentist are critical for people who have experienced gum disease. Everyone should take advantage of dental examinations since they can be the first sign of other health issues.