Periodontal Disease is more common than you’d think—in fact, 75% of Americans over the age of 35 have some form of it! Periodontal disease (or gum disease) is one of the most pervasive oral health issues, and if left untreated, it can have major repercussions on your overall health. It has been linked to heart and respiratory disease, stroke, and even complications with pregnancy.
What is Periodontal Disease and How Does it Happen?
It happens when bacteria colonize the gums, beginning with the gum-line where the soft tissue meets the teeth. To protect dental health, these bacteria must be disrupted every day through brushing. When they settle on the teeth, bacteria colonies cause a sticky film that develops into plaque. The process of gum disease is similar, but it attacks the soft tissue that supplies blood flow to the teeth. This can cause painful lesions on the gums, loose teeth, and even loss of bone structure.
To ensure that you’re doing everything you can to prevent this illness, follow these easy steps.
Step 1: Reevaluate your brushing technique
Proper brushing is a critical step in the prevention of periodontal (gum) disease. At its earliest stages, gum disease begins as gingivitis resulting from the bacteria generated by food particles and residue on your teeth. If left untreated, this relatively asymptomatic illness can advance to gum disease.
Luckily for us, gingivitis is actually very easily prevented with a solid oral healthcare regimen—which is why you want to be certain that you’re brushing correctly. Holding your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle, move the brush in small, tooth-wide strokes so that you focus on each tooth and its surrounding gums. Scrub all surfaces of the tooth—including the chewing surfaces and those hard-to-reach areas. Also, don’t forget to brush your tongue to eliminate the bacteria that reside there!
Step 2: Incorporate flossing and mouthwash into your daily routine
Have you ever experienced bleeding of the gums when you floss? This is a sign that you may have gingivitis, as your gums are likely inflamed or irritated. (If your gums are bleeding while you floss, be certain to schedule an appointment with Serenity International Dental Center as soon as possible.) To prevent gingivitis (and, possibly, gum disease) from occurring, be sure to include flossing and mouthwash in your routine. This will help you to remove the harmful bacteria that can’t be reached by normal brushing. Leave your floss and mouthwash next to your toothbrush, so you’ll be easily reminded to floss at least once per day in the evenings.
Step 3: Take your vitamins
If you want to ensure that you don’t get gum disease, taking regular vitamins may be a good place to start. Studies have shown that patients with high levels of vitamin D were actually 20% more likely to avoid gingivitis, likely due to its anti-inflammatory qualities. Vitamin C is also a good defender, as it can help you with bleeding gums. Finally, be certain to get your 800 milligrams of calcium per day, which will greatly help by strengthening your jawbone.
Step 4: Reduce smoking
There are several reasons that smoking is bad for your health, but a weakened immune system makes you specifically more susceptible to gum disease. Also, this means that if you already have damage to your gums, smoking makes it much more difficult for your body to heal and treatment much less effective. Studies have shown that smokers have double the risk of getting gum disease in their lifetime than nonsmokers. Therefore, to fight gum disease, we strongly recommend quitting smoking and other tobacco products.
Step 5: Get regular check-ups with your dentist
It is highly recommended that patients come in for regular dental visits twice a year, as this is a critical step in preventing gum disease (and other oral health conditions!). We’ll evaluate your gums to ensure that you’re in good health and stop any progression of gingivitis in its tracks.
If you’d like to schedule your routine dental appointment and ensure you don’t have this common illness, call one of our practice at Serenity International Dental Center today!