Keeping Your Gums Healthy to Avoid Periodontal Disease
Written By: Dr. Michael Richer
Periodontal disease, also referred to as periodontitis, is a severe form of gum disease characterized by the inflammation and infection of the gum tissue and the bones that support your teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can cause tooth loss as well as increase the risk of various diseases including diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disorders, and dementia.
In this guide, we will take a look at the causes of periodontal disease, the risks associated with it, and the steps you can take to prevent it.
Periodontal Disease – What Do the Numbers Say?
- 42% of adults (30 years or older) in the US suffer from some form of periodontal disease. Among these, 34% of the people have mild to moderate form of the disease (also known as non-severe periodontitis) and 8% of the people have severe periodontitis.
- 60% of elderly people (65 years or older) in the US suffer from some form of periodontal disease. Among these, 51% have a mild to moderate form of the disease and 9% have severe periodontitis.
- 62% of people with periodontal disease are smokers.
- 60% of people with periodontal disease have diabetes.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Lack of proper oral hygiene is the single biggest risk factor for periodontal disease. Failing to brush and floss your teeth regularly can lead to plaque buildup in your teeth, which can lead to infection and inflammation of your gums.
Apart from poor oral hygiene, several other risk factors can also increase your chances of developing periodontitis. These include:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- A family history of gum disease
- Autoimmune diseases like scleroderma and Crohn’s disease
- Hormonal changes caused by pregnancy and menopause
Different Stages of Periodontal Disease
It is the earliest stage of periodontal disease. It is a condition which is characterized by red, tender, and swollen gums, bad breath, and bleeding while brushing and flossing. If treated at the right time, the damage caused by gingivitis can be reversed entirely.
Mild Periodontal Disease
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress into periodontitis. At this stage of the disease, the connective tissues that hold your teeth together get infected, which results in the formation of periodontal pockets between your gum and your teeth.
Moderate Periodontal Disease
During this stage, the bacterial buildup in the periodontal pockets starts to affect the ligaments, soft tissues, and bones around your teeth.
Severe Periodontal Disease
It is the most serious form of periodontal disease. At this stage, the connective tissues and bones holding your teeth together are completely eroded, as a result of which your teeth might become loose or fall out.
How to Prevent Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease cannot be cured or reversed entirely. With proper oral hygiene, it can be prevented to a great extent. Here are the steps you can take to prevent periodontal disease.
Brushing is the single most effective step you can take to reduce your risk of dental problems. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal. If it is not possible, you should brush at least twice a day.
You can use an electric toothbrush or a manual toothbrush – depending on your preference. It should be noted that electric toothbrushes are more effective at cleaning your teeth compared to manual ones.
While brushing your teeth, you should also brush your tongue. Alternatively, you can also use a tongue cleaner to scrape your tongue. Make sure you apply gentle pressure while brushing, as too much pressure can damage the enamel and cause your gums to recede.
As good as your brushing technique might be, it might not be possible for you to remove all the food particles and plaque that are trapped between your teeth. It is why flossing is so important. With dental floss, you can easily reach places that you cannot reach with your toothbrush and remove all the food particles and plaque. Make sure you floss at least once a day.
Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after every meal. In addition to this, you should also use a mouthwash – preferably one that is approved by the American Dental Association – once or twice a day – after eating your meal. Antibacterial or antiseptic mouthwash can be very effective in preventing bacterial buildup in your mouth for up to 12 hours.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet. It will bolster your immune system and increase your body’s ability to fight harmful bacteria in the mouth. Avoid sugary snacks and sodas to the extent possible. Bad bacteria feed on sugars, so minimizing sugary foods in your diet helps protect your teeth and gums from proliferation of decay-causing bacteria.
Smoking or chewing tobacco can not only stain your teeth, but also increase your risk of gum disease significantly. Tobacco consumption can weaken your immune system, as a result of which your body might not be able to fight off gum infections. If you already have gum disease, smoking can accelerate the progression of the disease and make it harder for your gums to heal.
Keep Your Stress Levels under Check
Stress can adversely impact your immune system, which can make it harder for your body to fight off gum infections. If you tend to grind your teeth when you are stressed out – a condition known as bruxism – you might be at higher risk of developing oral health problems, as the constant grinding of the teeth can damage your teeth and gums.
Regular Dental Checkups
Regular dental checkups are extremely important to detect early signs of gum disease and other oral health problems. You should undergo a comprehensive periodontal evaluation at least once a year. If you have a family history of periodontitis or if you have any other risk factors mentioned in this guide, you should visit your dentist at least twice a year. If you are going through pregnancy or menopause, it is important to visit your dentist more frequently, as you are at higher risk of developing gum disease.
Concerned about Periodontal Disease? Highly Skilled and Experienced Dentists at R+R Dental are Here to Help
At R+R Dental, trusted dentists Dr. Michael Richer and Dr. Nadia Rivera have extensive experience in the treatment and management of periodontal disease. If you are looking to prevent periodontal disease, we can create a personalized oral hygiene routine for you and your family.If you have gum disease, we can treat it and manage it effectively as well as prevent it from progressing. Call us today at 347-934-6446 or use our online contact form to schedule an appointment with one of our Hicksville, NY dentists.