What is gum disease? How do I know the signs? Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is very common in the United States, affecting half of all American adults (which equates to millions of people). The crazy part? Gum disease is completely preventable! It never has to happen. It is usually caused by a buildup of plaque and other substances on the teeth that break down tooth enamel and affect the delicate tissues of your gums and teeth. When teeth are not properly taken care of, inflammation (known as gingivitis) can begin to set in that progresses to gum disease. If you have the early stages of gum disease, we can actually work with you to reverse the symptoms and get your teeth healthy once more. At Niles Family Dentistry, we can help provide you all the treatments necessary to keep your natural teeth for years to come.
There might be several terms you’ve heard of and all deal with gum disease: periodontal disease, periodontitis and gingivitis. Gingivitis is actually the first stage of gum disease and is generally when patients experience red, swollen and inflamed gums. The gums bleed much easier when flossing and brushing when gingivitis is present. The inflammation is a natural response to the presence of harmful bacteria causing damage. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and periodontitis is the advanced stage, where gums recede from the teeth and teeth become loose and fall out. No one wants that, right? Gum disease and its effects have also been linked to heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. How does gum disease start? We all have bacteria in the mouth that helps with digestion. Some of the bacteria in the mouth is bad bacteria that makes a sticky film on your teeth called plaque. If plaque is left on the teeth, the bacteria will erode the tooth enamel, seeping into the tooth pulp and causing cavities or irritating the gums, causing recession and tooth loss. It all has to deal with cleaning the mouth often so that bad bacteria can’t break down your teeth and irritate your gums.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that around 64.7 million adult Americans have some form of gum disease. That is about 47% of American adults, or almost half of the adults in the U.S. Why is gum disease so prevalent when it is so preventable? It’s the little things that add up. In several studies about gum disease, most of the adults that had some form of gum disease simply were not brushing their teeth or flossing that often. Some could not even recall the last time they flossed their teeth. No wonder tooth decay and gum disease were the result! If you could lose weight with investing 5 minutes or less of your time each day, would you do it? If so, what is the difference when it comes to gum disease? Investing a few minutes of your time for proper oral hygiene will give you awesome oral health, preventing tooth decay, gum disease and money lost to extensive dental and gum work. One of the highest risk factors for gum disease is smoking, so we recommend cutting back on the smoking or really hitting the oral hygiene practices hard if you smoke.
Treatments for Gum Disease
Luckily for you, the moderate stages of gum disease (like gingivitis) can be reversed. However, the advanced forms of periodontitis can’t easily be reversed. That’s when surgical treatments come into play, which we’ve explained below. Here are some suggestions when it comes to gum disease and its prevention:
- Treat gum disease before it even begins. How do you do that? Through frequent brushing and flossing of course! Brush and floss those pearly whites at least 2x a day, if not after every meal. That will ensure that all the bad bacteria and plaque buildup is removed often enough from the teeth before causing tooth decay. (We cannot stress this enough!)
- Come into the office frequently! There is a reason we want you to come in for cleanings at least twice a year, and that is to keep your teeth clean.
- Periodontal treatments are possible. For our gum disease treatments, we provide deep cleaning through scaling and root planing to provide a healthy tissue environment to help tissues readapt to normal tooth surfaces. With our periodontal maintenance, we provide treatments and protocols designed to clean and maintain your gums and teeth and stop gum disease in it’s tracks. Some of our periodontal procedures are surgical and some non-surgical. Keeping your gum disease at bay by seeing us often is how you can avoid the surgical procedures (which is the more favorable option).
- Call the office. The first step to starting on a plan to combat gum disease is to call our office to schedule your cleaning, comprehensive exam or consultation.
Gum disease is 100% preventable and we hope that all of our patients can avoid the symptoms of gum disease and tooth loss. We are here to treat you and help you with your gingivitis and various stages of gum disease though. Simply calling our Niles Family Dentistry office at (303) 652-0400 is a great step in the right direction. For better oral health, we can help!