Gum disease is a common oral health issue that affects 47% of adults over the age of 30 and 70% of adults over the age of 65 (Source). As alarming as those statistics may sound, you remain in control of your fate. There are ways to lower your risk of gum disease and protect your smile as a whole. Check out these tips to prevent periodontal disease.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease results from unmanaged plaque in your smile. At first, the plaque will irritate your gums to create areas of redness and swelling in a stage known as gingivitis. Your gums may bleed easily when you floss, or you may experience sensitivity when you brush too hard.
Over time, the plaque hardens to become tartar, and that tartar can spread beneath the gums. The gums become more inflamed and irritated, and they may start to recede. This is when the gingivitis transitions into periodontitis. The receding gums create more space for tartar to build up, and the cycle continues.
If the plaque and tartar remain untreated, periodontitis may turn into periodontal disease or gum disease. Your gums may pull completely away from the roots of your tooth, exposing sensitive components to everything you eat and drink. The longer the issues go unresolved, the more complex the treatment is. This is why we recommend taking preventative steps early on and seeking treatment at the first indicators of gum disease.
How to Lower Your Risk of Gum Disease
Routine teeth cleanings and oral exams can drastically reduce your risk of gum disease. A trained dental hygienist can eliminate the plaque and tartar buildup in your smile, and your dentist can evaluate your oral health for early warning signs. We recommend seeing your dentist every 6-12 months for teeth cleanings. This is a standard level of care that most insurance plans will cover.
Brush your teeth twice per day and floss at least once per day. Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth rinsed and your body hydrated. Avoid sugary foods and drinks when possible because the sugars feed bacteria in your mouth. A healthy, well-balanced diet will help keep gum disease at bay.
Smoking and excess weight can increase your risk of gum disease. Some medical conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes, have been linked to gum disease and other oral health issues. Talk to your doctor about your oral health as it connects with your body’s health to find the best risk management solutions for your needs.
How to Treat and Manage Gum Disease
Gum disease treatment paths vary based on how progressed the disease is. Early stages may be treated with routine cleanings and topical antibiotics. More severe cases may require gum grafting, root planing, bone grafting, or other surgical procedures.
If your gums are sensitive, inflamed, or receding, talk to your dentist right away about treatment options. Follow the tips above to lower your risk of gum disease, and continue brushing and flossing daily. For more information about gum disease treatment and prevention, contact Clinton Dental Center at (586) 949-5363.