Gum disease, or periodontal disease, describes the growth of bacteria that sets processes into motion that eventually destroy tissue surrounding the teeth. Seventy-five percent or more of Americans over 35 have some degree of gum disease. At later stages of gum disease, tooth loss is a frequent consequence. Additionally, gum disease can impact far more than dental health. According to the American Dental Association, “There is evidence that bacteria in the mouth which are associated with gum disease may be linked to heart disease, artery blockages and stroke.”
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease symptoms can be are subtle, but warning signs are usually present. They include:
· Bleeding gums during and after brushing teeth
· Red, puffy or sore gums
· Receding gums
· Bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
· Deep pockets between teeth and gums
· Shifting teeth or loose teeth
Preventing Gum Disease
The following steps are key to avoiding gum disease:
1. Brush your gums — Massage your gums daily in small circles where each tooth is embedded in the gum to promote circulation and remove bacteria. Finish by lightly brushing the top and bottom gums, both on the inside and outside, with your regular fluoride toothpaste.
2. Rinse with a fluoride rinse – If you’re drinking water contains fluoride, you can skip this step. If not, rinse for one minute with a fluoride rinse. The rinse will help reduce the number of bacteria present.
3. Floss every day – Even though you sometimes can’t see the particles in and around your teeth, flossing gets rid of them, and serves to prevent infection. Measure out about 18 inches of floss, wrap the ends around each forefinger and grasp with the thumb. Push it up and down between teeth and along the sides of the teeth. Slide into a clean section of floss with each tooth you clean.
4. Rinse with a quality mouthwash — Ask your dentist to recommend a low-alcohol, non-irritating brand. High alcohol can aggravate the mouth, and some believe it leads to oral cancer. A good mouthwash kills bacteria in the mouth.
5. Don’t smoke or drink heavily — Higher incidences of gum disease and oral cancer exist in smokers and drinkers. Drinking and smoking can also contribute to yellowing of teeth. Chew sugarless gum instead.
6. Get routine, professional dental cleanings – Despite your best solo efforts, you can’t prevent gum disease entirely on your own. In-home dental care just can’t clean to the degree that a dental office cleaning can. Also, your dentist can spot the early signs of gum disease that you might miss and take steps to halt further progression.
Great dental care habits, such as those mentioned above, dramatically increase your chances of keeping a healthy set of teeth well into your advanced years.
If you are in the Phoenix, Mesa or Scottsdale, Arizona region, and are concerned about the health of your gums and teeth, please view the website of Drs. Lesueur and Dodaro and consider setting an appointment today by calling 480-834-6991. Dr. Lesueur and Dr. Dodaro provide thorough dental exams, professional dental cleanings and a host of other dental techniques and procedures to keep your teeth their healthiest.