Understanding Gum Disease: Prevention and Treatment Strategies
Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of Americans aged 30 or older have periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease? This equals approximately 64.7 million Americans. It's not just a problem for adults, either. Gum disease can affect people of all ages. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss and other serious health complications.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. It's typically caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaqueÃ³a sticky film of bacteriaÃ³to build up on the teeth and harden. In advanced stages, periodontal disease can lead to sore, bleeding gums; painful chewing problems; and even tooth loss.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease often progresses silently, with few signs or symptoms in the early stages. However, the following are common signs of gum disease:
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Receding gums, making your teeth appear longer
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
Prevention of Gum Disease
Preventing gum disease involves a few key steps that are mostly related to maintaining good oral hygiene. These include:
- Brushing your teeth: Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Flossing: Floss daily to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can't reach.
- Regular dental visits: Regular dental check-ups and professional teeth cleaning.
- Healthy diet: Eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and dairy products can help prevent gum disease.
Treatment of Gum Disease
If you have gum disease, it's crucial to get treatment as soon as possible. The treatment your dentist recommends will depend on how far the disease has progressed. Common treatments include:
- Deep Cleaning: This is also known as scaling and root planning. The dentist, periodontist, or dental hygienist removes the plaque through a deep-cleaning method.
- Medications: In some cases, the dentist may prescribe antibiotics or antimicrobial mouthwashes to help fight the infection.
- Surgery: If the disease is advanced, surgery may be necessary to reduce pocket depths, making teeth easier to clean.
Gum disease is a common but preventable condition. With proper oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups, you can significantly reduce your risk. If you notice any signs of gum disease, contact your dentist promptly for an examination and treatment.