Gum Disease, otherwise known as Periodontal Disease, is a serious problem. Left unchecked, it can cause you to lose your teeth—and possibly worse.
Early Signs of Gum Disease
One of the first warnings that you might have gum disease is red, swollen or bleeding gums. You might spot blood when you brush or floss your teeth, or your gums may feel tender, which are indicators that your gums may be infected. This early stage is called Gingivitis, an inflammation along the gum line. If not caught at this stage, the infection can worsen and travel to the tooth’s supporting bone.
Other early symptoms of gum disease include receding gums. The gums begin to recede when the bone begins to break down, creating pockets along the gumline that can easily harbor bacteria or cause tooth sensitivity. If your teeth look longer, they are not growing; your gums are receding.
Prevention of Gum Disease
The first thing you dentist will do is deep clean your teeth and gums. Using specialized instruments, he or she will go below the gumline to remove any infection. Scaling, or tartar removal, is also performed to remove tartar both above and below the gum line. If things look bad, your dentist may also do root planing to help the gums reattach to the root.
There is no medication that can cure gum disease, and its effects are generally not reversible. If infection is present, your dentist may recommend antibiotics or other medications to help get it under control. Surgery, including gum graft and gum flap surgery, is often a recourse when gum disease has progressed into more serious stages.
Good and regular dental care, both at home and through regular dental visits, is the best way to prevent gum disease from happening in the first place. Watching the diet is another; lowering the intake of highly-acidic foods, sugar, and carbohydrates will help.
Home Dental Care
Brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using an antimicrobial rinse are the cornerstones of good oral hygiene. Using a soft toothbrush, brush the teeth gently without scrubbing. Scrubbing will only wear away the gums more quickly. Be sure to angle the brush to reach the gumline where plaque tends to accumulate, using a 45-degree angle. Store your toothbrush upright so that it can dry out between brushings, and do not store toothbrushes together where they are touching.
Floss between teeth, or use a proxa brush that resembles a tiny bottle brush, to slide between teeth and clean hard-to-reach places. Rinse with mouthwash. A water flosser, such as a WaterPik, can also be effective in good oral health care.
Ingesting calcium can help to build strong bones and prevent gum disease. A study from the State University of New York at Buffalo suggests that at least 800 milligrams of calcium a day offers an effective way to strengthen the jawbone that supports your teeth. Vitamin C can help reduce bleeding in gums, and Vitamin D has anti-inflammatory effects.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
At EverSmile Dentistry, we recommend a twice-yearly examination and professional cleaning for all of our patients, from age 1 through adulthood. For those who have gingivitis or the beginnings of gum disease, we may recommend more frequent visits to maintain your oral health and preserve your natural teeth for life.
We’re located in Sterling, VA to serve families located throughout Northern Virginia. To set your appointment with EverSmile Dentistry, please contact us.