What is periodontitis (gum disease)?
Periodontitis, also known as gum disease, is a condition that gradually affects your gums. It starts off painless in the early stage called gingivitis and can progress without you noticing any problems.
Plaque builds on your teeth and along the gum line, solidifying into a rough substance known as tartar or calculus. This can create gaps between your teeth and inflamed gums, providing a breeding ground for bacteria, which may contribute to various health problems such as cardiovascular disease. Once tartar hardens, only a dentist can eliminate it using specialized instruments.
As periodontitis progresses, it can lead to bone loss and deterioration of the gums, eventually resulting in tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is a primary cause of tooth loss in adults.
Therefore, it is crucial to prevent gum disease by adhering to a strict daily oral hygiene routine, which includes brushing, flossing, and regular visits to your dental hygienist. These practices are vital for maintaining optimal oral health.
How can I prevent periodontitis?
There are also some less obvious tips that may help you avoid gum disease or reduce your risk of getting it. You may want to:
Take inventory of your medications. It's worth noting that some medications, such as antidepressants, heart medications, and oral contraceptives, can worsen and even cause gum disease.
Increasing your intake of vitamins A and C, which are found in healthy foods. Conversely, cut back on sugary and starchy foods that can contribute to plaque buildup.
Address any dental issues promptly. If you have problems like teeth grinding, misaligned, or crowded teeth, it's important to take care of them. These issues can make it harder to clean your teeth effectively, leading to plaque buildup and other oral health problems.
Give your gums some gentle massage. Along with regular brushing and flossing (at least twice a day for two minutes when brushing, and thorough flossing once a day), show your gums some care by gently massaging them. This can help improve blood flow to the gum tissue.
Choose toothpaste with fluoride. Using toothpaste with fluoride helps remove plaque bacteria along the gum line without causing irritation to your gums.
Quit smoking. Did you know that smoking is strongly linked to gum disease? It also weakens the immune system, making it harder for damaged gums to heal.
Know your risks. Whether it's genetics, diet, age, smoking, or other factors, knowing your susceptibility to periodontitis is important for reducing your risk and staying healthy.
Bonus tip: Talk to your dentist about periodontal disease treatment. Detecting periodontitis early is crucial for effective treatment. It's easier to address gum disease in its early stages before it progresses to tooth or jaw bone tissue loss. Treatment options vary depending on the severity and progression of the disease, ranging from non-surgical to surgical approaches.