Why Should You Care For Your Gums?
Your gums may seem like an afterthought, but they are crucial for a healthy mouth and teeth. Gums securely hold teeth in place and are early indicators of underlying problems or health conditions.
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, occurs when the tissues and bone that support your teeth become infected and inflamed. You may notice your gums bleeding when you brush or floss. This is an early warning sign of gum disease. This not only affects your mouth, but it has also shown to have direct, adverse effects on your overall health.
Just like regular checkups with your primary care physician, we encourage you to schedule routine dental checkups with our office for quick, stress-free appointments. Early detection of gum disease is the best course of action.
Preventative care and regular monitoring will not only save your gums, but it will also save you money in the long run. It costs less to keep your gums healthy than to treat and manage gum disease for the rest of your life.
Who Is At Risk?
Anyone can get gum disease, but the following factors strongly increase the risk:
- Not taking care of your teeth and gums. It is extremely important to practice basic dental hygiene and routinely visit our office for cleanings and checkups.
- Regular tobacco use. Smoking, chewing, or dipping increases the risk.
- Underlying diseases may lower your body’s resistance to infections, including gum disease. Talk to us about any changes in your overall health.
- Some medications, including steroids or blood pressure treatments, may affect your gums. Inform us of any medications you are taking or have taken previously.
- Changes in hormone levels, like in teenagers or pregnant women, can cause the gums to become more susceptible to the plaque and bacteria that cause gum disease.
- Genetics. If your immediate family has had a history of dental issues or gum disease, make sure you practice basic dental hygiene and visit us for routine checkups.
- Saliva. The bacteria that cause gum disease can pass through saliva from one person to another.
Common Causes And Signs of Gum Disease
Plaque is the most common cause of gum disease. If you do not practice effective oral hygiene, plaque grows under your gums and causes them to become red, puffy, and swollen. Once infected, they may begin to pull away from your teeth and form deep pockets. These pockets grow between your teeth and gums. This becomes a haven for bacteria to collect and grow.
These bacteria produce toxins that weaken your gums which allows the bacteria and those same toxins to enter your bloodstream.
What To Do If Your Gums Are Red, Puffy or Swollen
If you notice any of these symptoms in your gums, make an appointment to get your gums checked. Let our highly-skilled team provide you a stress-free, detailed exam and they’ll show you how to get your mouth back in shape. As with any disease, early detection and care is critical. Those regular checkups matter!
Impact on Other Diseases
The mouth is the catalyst and first indicator of healthy bodies and the first warning sign leading to other diseases. In fact, gum disease has been directly linked to significantly increasing the risks associated with several conditions and diseases, including:
- Heart attacks
- Alzheimer’s disease
What To Do If You Have Gum Disease
Detection is the first step, followed by initial treatment of the infection. Depending on the severity of your case, gum disease can be managed with a specialized, step-by-step process known as scaling and root planing. Other treatments like targeted antibiotics, prescription mouthrinses, lasers and gum pocket irrigation may also be used in addition to scaling and root planing. In more severe cases of gum disease, an appointment with a Periodontist may be needed. A Periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the treatment of gum disease.
Step 1: Detection
You should have your gums measured for infected pockets and bleeding at each checkup. If you’ve been told you have gum disease, you should make sure these measurements are taken so that you know it isn’t getting worse.
Step 2: Scaling
Our hygienist will safely remove plaque and tartar from the bottom of each pocket.
Step 3: Root Planing
Next, the hygienist will focus on thoroughly cleaning and smoothing the teeth. This is paramount in helping the gum tissue heal and reattach to the tooth.
Step 4: Homework!
After this safe, effective treatment is completed what you do at home matters. Daily brushing and flossing is the most important thing you can do outside of our office to keep gum disease under control.
Step 5: Gum Maintenance
Like many diseases, once you’ve had gum disease you will always have a higher risk of it coming back. Research shows that the bacteria that cause gum disease takes about 3 months to start regrowing and reinfecting your gums. Initially, you may need to come back to our office every 3 months for gum maintenance.
What To Do If Your Gum Disease Is More Severe
In the unlikely case that scaling and root planing does not correct the issue, you may be referred to a periodontist. They can offer advanced procedures to improve your chances of fighting gum disease.
- Periodontal surgery is not as daunting as it sounds and is effective in treating severe cases of gum disease. The periodontist creates a small space between your gums and the teeth, thoroughly removes plaque and infection from hard-to-reach areas and then securely tightens the gums back to the teeth. This procedure actually makes it easier to keep your teeth and gums by reducing the depth of the pockets.
- Bone Damage repair. In more severe cases, the bones may become damaged from gum disease. If this occurs, a simple procedure is completed to rebuild or reshape the bone, while also removing any plaque or tartar.
Healthy Habits and Prevention
Gum disease can easily be prevented with regular basic hygiene, including brushing and a healthy diet. Follow the steps below for a healthy mouth!
- Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day for at least 2 minutes.
- Schedule routine cleanings and checkups. Let us help you keep a healthy mouth for a healthy life!
- Practice regular flossing between the teeth. Our office can provide tips and recommendations for effective flossing tools and practice.
- Use a germ-killing mouthwash daily. Our office can provide recommendations for effective brands.
- Practice a healthy diet that limits sugary beverages or snacks.