Periodontal disease doesn't just have a negative impact on your oral health, it has the ability to affect your overall physical health as well. In this blog, our Winnipeg dentists discuss what periodontitis (gum disease) is and how it can be prevented.
What is periodontitis (gum disease)?
Periodontitis (gum disease) is progressive and steadily penetrates your gums. Since the early stages of this disease (gingivitis) are generally painless, the condition is able to become more advanced without being noticed or detected until it is in its later stages.
Plaque builds up along your gum line and on your teeth, then it becomes hard and turns into a porous and rough deposit called calculus or tartar. Pockets develop between the irritated gums and teeth, collecting bacteria that could cause other health issues including cardiovascular disease. Once the plaque becomes hard, only your dentist will be able to remove it with special. tools.
Once periodontitis has advanced it can lead to deterioration of the gums, loss of bone structure, and possible tooth loss. Gum disease is actually one of the most common causes of tooth loss among adults.
This makes removing plaque with a strict daily hygiene routine of brushing, flossing, and attending regular dental hygiene appointments so essential for prevention and maintaining your oral health.
How can I prevent periodontitis?
Here are some less obvious tips that can help you prevent and lower your risk of gum disease:
Take inventory of your medications. Some medications can increase your risk and aggravate gum disease, including heart medicines, antidepressants, and oral contraceptives.
Increase your consumption of vitamins A and C, which are part of a healthy diet that can help prevent periodontitis. Contrarily, you can cut sugary and starchy foods, that help plaque build.
Treat dental issues quickly. Have dental problems or oral health issues such as teeth grinding, misaligned or crowded teeth corrected. 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 twice 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 helps to remove plaque and bacteria buildup along the gum line without irritating 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’re damaged, as smoking weakens the immune system.
Know your risks. Whether genetics, diet, age, smoking, or other factors 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 detect 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 options for treatment.
Regular oral hygiene - and reducing your personal risk factors - will go a long way in the fight to prevent 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.