What is periodontitis gum disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is a progressive condition that affects your gums. Initially painless in its early stage called gingivitis, it can quickly progress without noticeable symptoms.
Plaque buildup on your teeth and along the gum line hardens into tartar or calculus, which forms rough deposits. As a result, pockets develop between the teeth and inflamed gums, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. This can potentially lead to other health issues like cardiovascular disease. Only dental professionals have the necessary tools to remove hardened plaque.
If left untreated, periodontitis can cause bone loss, gum deterioration, and eventually tooth loss. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults.
To prevent gum disease, it is crucial to maintain a thorough daily oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing, and to regularly visit your dental hygienist for check-ups and cleanings. These measures are essential for preventing and preserving your oral health.
How can I prevent periodontitis?
Now that you understand the importance of maintaining a thorough daily oral hygiene routine to prevent gum disease, here are some additional tips to keep your gums healthy:
Review your medication list. Some medications, such as antidepressants, heart medicines, and oral contraceptives, can contribute to or worsen gum disease. Be aware of these potential effects and discuss them with your healthcare provider.
Boost your intake of vitamins A and C. These vitamins play a vital role in maintaining a healthy diet and preventing periodontitis. Incorporate foods rich in vitamins A and C into your diet. Conversely, reduce your consumption of sugary and starchy foods, as they can contribute to plaque formation.
Promptly address dental issues. Seek treatment for dental problems or oral health issues like teeth grinding, misaligned teeth, or overcrowding. Properly aligned teeth are easier to clean, reducing the chances of plaque buildup.
Gently massage your gums. In addition to regular brushing and flossing (at least twice a day for two minutes each), consider gently massaging your gums. Massaging stimulates blood flow to the gum tissue, promoting overall gum health.
Use fluoride toothpaste. This key ingredient helps to remove the buildup of plaque bacteria along the gum line without irritating gums.
Quit smoking. The fact is that smoking is strongly associated with the onset of gum disease, and it makes it more difficult for your gums to heal once they’re damaged since smoking has been shown to weaken the immune system.
Know your risks. Whether genetics, diet, age, smoking or other factors make you more susceptible to periodontitis, knowledge is power when it comes to reducing your risk and maintaining a healthy smile.
Bonus: Ask your dentist about periodontal disease treatment. The earlier your dentist can detect periodontitis (if you do get it), the better. That's because it's easier to treat gum disease in its earlier stages than when it has advanced to the point that you start to lose teeth or jaw bone tissue. Depending on how far the disease has progressed and its severity, there are surgical and non-surgical options for treatment.