Gum disease is one of the most common oral health problems in the world. Nevertheless, many people are much less familiar with gum disease compared to cavities, and so aren’t actively aware of what it is and how significant the consequences of advanced gum disease for your oral and general health are.
Gum disease is an inflammatory condition that occurs when plaque – the clear, sticky coating that covers our teeth when we don’t brush them – starts to spread onto the gums. Plaque contains millions of bacteria that produce acids and irritate the gums. This is the start of gum disease.
Gum disease may begin with mild symptoms, such as red, swollen, and bleeding gums. However, without treatment, it can quickly lead to severe pain, gum recession, abscesses and infection, and even jawbone deterioration and tooth loss. Studies have also found a link between severe gum disease and general chronic health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, and even some cancers.
Preventing gum disease should be a priority for everyone. Here are our top tips to reduce your risk of developing gum disease and protect your long-term oral health.
It’s common sense, but the best thing you can do to protect yourself against gum disease is to brush your teeth at least twice every day. Use a soft-bristled brush as this won’t damage your gums, and brush carefully not hard, paying special attention to the gum line. Use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your tooth enamel for an added boost.
To the untrained hand, flossing generally takes longer than brushing and so many people skip this important step in their oral health routine. Nevertheless, flossing is important for removing tiny food particles and plaque that form on the tiny cracks and crevices in the teeth where a toothbrush just can’t reach. There are several different types of floss, from conventional tape to interdental brushes and water flossers, making it possible to find a type that works for you.
Some acidic foods and drinks, particularly citrus fruits, can increase the rate at which the enamel of your teeth erodes. This is important as rapidly-evolving cavities that occur near the gum line are packed with bacteria which could spread onto the gum tissue and trigger the start of gum disease. Try and eat a healthy balanced diet with limited acids to protect your teeth and gums.
Studies have found that people who smoke are considerably more likely to suffer from gum disease. The reason for this is that smoking limits the amount of oxygen in the blood, and this can directly affect gum health and cause issues with healing.
Your dentist can use routine check-up appointments to monitor the condition and health of your gums, advising you if your gums are starting to be affected and what you can do to preserve your gum health as much as possible. In cases of moderate to advanced gum disease, you may need treatments such as antibiotics, scaling and polishing, and even gum grafting. Your dentist can also carry out regular professional cleans which will remove all traces of plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) and reduce your risk of gum disease.
Got further questions about gum disease? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly and knowledgeable dental team today. Call O.C. Lakes Dental at (949) 356-7860 to reach our office in Irvine, California.