Health Care Guide Of Family

Gum Disease: How to Prevent it

Gum disease is a serious problem that is, generally, preventable. The CDC reports that 47% of people over 30 have periodontitis, which is the middle stage of gum disease. This prevalent problem, if left untreated, will eventually lead to the loss of teeth and even serious bone deterioration and infection. Of course, the best way to stay on top of your oral health and have gum disease diagnosed or prevented is to see your dentist in Seattle, or wherever you live. In addition to regular dental cleaning and oral healthcare by your local dentist, here are other ways to recognize and prevent gum disease.

What is gum disease?

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Gum disease advances through three stages that progress from one to another. It early stages include inflammation. If it is not treated and measures are not taken to avoid the progression, gum disease will begin to affect the bone surrounding the teeth. The three stages of gum disease are:

  1. Gingivitis – This first stage is marked by inflammation of the gums. When gum disease is caught at this stage, it is still reversible and has not affected the bone, teeth, or connective tissue.
  2. Periodontitis – At this point , irreversible damage has occurred to the bone and tissue that hold the teeth in place. Pockets have opened below the gum line which allow the growth of plaque to penetrate deeper below the gums. This stage can be halted from progressing, but will not completely return to a healthier state.
  3. Advanced periodontitis – This last stage gums, bone, and fibers have all been damaged from toxins built up from infection caused by the bacteria. Aggressive treatment is required to save the teeth, though this still may not be possible. A dentist may recommend the removal of teeth where it has become necessary.

Causes of gum disease

Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque. Plaque is a sticky film containing millions of colorless bacteria. This film is always forming on teeth and needs to be removed on a regular basis. When it is not, it hardens and becomes tartar which can only be removed by professional cleaning. Plaque and tartar buildup inflame the gums and increase the space between the gums and the teeth. When this is not corrected, those open gaps in the gum line allow more bacteria to get deeper around the root of teeth, causing them to loosen and decay. When the bacteria gets all the way to the bone, it causes the bone to recede. This combination results in teeth falling out and can eventually become a serious bone infection.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Gum Disease

Whenever possible it is important to recognize the first symptoms of gingivitis as it becomes a concern. A dentist can easily diagnose gingivitis. You can also look out for these symptoms on your own:

Symptoms of gingivitis

  • Redness of gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Swelling of the gums/inflammation
  • Tenderness when gums are touched

When gum disease progresses to periodontists, there is an additional set of symptoms which are compounded on top of those already existing from gingivitis.

Symptoms of periodontists

  • Receding gums
  • Pus around gum line
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Foul taste in mouth
  • Shifting/migrating teeth

The final stage of gum disease is marked by much more serious damage that poses a serious health threat. This stage is marked by more severe forms of the symptoms listed above, as well as these additional signs:

Symptoms of advanced periodontitis

  • Gum recession down to the exposed root
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages
  • Abscesses under the gums
  • Painful gums and teeth
  • Discharge from the gums
  • Uncomfortable chewing
  • Tooth loss
  • Bone deterioration
  • Swelling of the ligaments and muscles in the mouth and face

Risk factors of gum disease

Not keeping up with good oral hygiene is one of the largest risk factors in gum disease and one of the most preventable. As many links between oral care and other heath conditions have been drawn, as the one between heart health and periodontal disease, it is important to work with the risk factors that are within one’s control. The risk factors that contribute to gum disease include:

  • Heredity/Family history of gum disease
  • Already developed gingivitis
  • Inadequate oral health care
  • Smoking/tobacco usage
  • Diabetes
  • Advanced age
  • Immunocompromised, such as people with HIV/AIDS, leukemia, or who have had chemotherapy
  • Insufficient nutrition
  • Changes to hormone levels, such as with pregnancy or menopause
  • Substance abuse
  • Ill-fitting dental prosthetics

Ways to Prevent Gum Disease

As stated above, one of the best ways to avoid getting gum disease is to steer clear of any risk that are preventable. Things like smoking and drug use should be eliminated in order to maintain good oral care. People with other factors, like advanced age, diabetes, or a family history of gum disease should be extra vigilant with their oral hygiene and keep a close eye out for the beginning symptoms. Also staying current on visits to the dentist are an important part of oral healthcare and disease prevention.

Additional ways to stay on top of good dental care include:Dentist Seattle WA

  • Daily brushing
    • Thoroughly brush teeth for at least two minutes at a time, twice a day. This should be done in the morning and before going to bed.
    • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush with rounded tips or an electric toothbrush that is ADA approved. Manual toothbrushes should be replaced every 3 to 4 months.
    • When brushing, place the bristles are a 45-degree angle to the gum line and gently brush in a circular motion. Avoid too much pressure, as it will damage the enamel and gums.
    • Brush all surfaces of the teeth, paying close attention that you get the bristles down into each area.
    • Remember to brush the tongue or use a tongue scraper. The tongue can store a lot of bacteria which needs to be cleaned off, just like the teeth.
    • Use a disclosure tablet once a week to show you any areas of tartar you have missed. These can be purchased at most drugstores and are a great way to see where you can make improvements to your brushing.
  • Flossing
    • Floss at least once a day, after your nightly brushing.
    • Once the floss is between two teeth, curve it into a U-shape and gently move it up and down, carefully getting below the gum. Then switch to a U-shape around the other tooth in that same crease.
    • Make sure to use a fresh, clean section of floss with each new dip down between the next teeth.
    • Be gentle and make sure not to pull the floss down too hard where it will cut the gums.
  • Mouthwash
    • Rinsing your mouth out with an antiseptic mouthwash is the last step in the daily oral care routine. First brush, then floss, and finally rinse your mouth thoroughly with mouthwash.
    • Make sure to get the rinse between the teeth in each area. Focus on the right side, then the left, then the front, moving the liquid back and forth between the teeth.
    • Select a mouthwash that is ADA approve.
  • Eating right for a healthy mouth
    • Just like with all areas of health, eating nutrient-rich foods and avoiding saturated fats, high sodium, sugars, and processed foods are ways of promoting good oral health.
    • Mozzarella, yogurt, and sugar-free gum containing xylitol help reduce sugar and plaque buildup, and are therefore good to have at the end of a meal.
    • In addition to processed sugars, dried fruits can also be harmful. They stick to teeth and the naturally high fructose feeds bacteria. It is a good ideas to brush after eating dried fruit, candy, or other foods that are sticky and contain a form of sugar.
    • Do not eat anything after your last brushing for the night. Food particles left on teeth and a lower production of saliva while sleeping both increase tooth decay.

Treatment for Gum Disease

Treatment for gum disease will depend on the level to which it has progressed. As stated above, gingivitis is reversible with diligent oral care and regular dental cleaning by your dentist. Once the gum disease has advanced to periodontists or advanced periodontists, it is irreversible and will require a dentist’s intervention. The best thing to do is to stay current on your visits to the dental in Seattle, at least once a year—more if a diagnosis has been made and your dentist has suggested