Periodontal disease can negatively impact your oral and physical health. Here, our dentists in Edmonton talk to you about what periodontitis is and how you can prevent it.
What is periodontitis (gum disease)?
Periodontitis is also known as gum disease and can be defined as a progressive condition that gradually invades your gums. Because it's generally painless in its early stages (gingivitis), it can easily evolve into its advanced stages before you notice any problems.
Plaque builds up on your teeth and along the gum line, it then hardens into a rough, porous deposit referred to as tartar or calculus. Pockets then form between the teeth and irritated gums, this is where bacteria starts to collect leading to other health problems such as cardiovascular disease. Once plaque has hardened, only your dentist will be able to remove it.
In its advanced stages, periodontitis can cause loss of bone structure, deterioration of gums, and eventually tooth loss. Gum disease is actually one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults.
That’s why removing plaque with a highly effective hygiene routine including daily brushing, flossing, and attending regular dental hygiene appointments is so important for maintaining your oral health.
How to prevent periodontitis
There are also some less obvious tips that can help you avoid gum disease or reduce your risk of developing it. You might want to:
Take inventory of your medications. Certain medications can contribute to and aggravate gum disease, including antidepressants, heart medicines, and oral contraceptives.
Increase your consumption of vitamins A and C. These are part of a healthy diet that can help prevent periodontitis. You can also, cut sugary and starchy foods, which allow plaque to build.
Treat dental issues quickly. Fix dental problems or oral health issues such as teeth grinding, misaligned or crowded teeth. It can be more challenging to properly clean teeth that aren’t properly spaced, thus providing room for plaque to grow and thrive.
Gently massage your gums. Along with brushing and flossing regularly (at least two times a day for two minutes each time for brushing, and once daily for thorough flossing), show your gums some love by gently massaging them, which increases blood flow to the tissue.
Use fluoride toothpaste. This key ingredient removes the buildup of plaque bacteria along the gum line without irritating your gums.
Quit smoking. Smoking is not only strongly associated with the onset of gum disease, it makes it more difficult for your gums to heal once they become damaged, as smoking weakens the immune system.
Know your risks. Genetics, diet, age, smoking, and other factors can make you more susceptible to periodontitis, knowledge is power when it comes to reducing your risk and staying healthy.
Bonus: Ask your dentist about periodontal disease treatment. The earlier your dentist can find periodontitis (if you do get it), the better. That's because it's easier to treat gum disease in its earlier stages than when it has advanced to the point that you start to lose teeth or jaw bone tissue. Depending on how far the disease has progressed and its severity, there are surgical and non-surgical treatments available.
Regular oral hygiene - and reducing your personal risk factors - will go a long way in fighting gum disease. Our gums are as important as our teeth when it comes to our oral health, so it’s important not to neglect them.