Unfortunately, the effects of periodontal disease may not be restricted to your oral health; they can also impact your physical health. Today, our Winnipeg dentists define periodontitis and share tips on prevention.
What is periodontitis (gum disease)?
In its early stages, periodontitis is usually painless. Also called gingivitis, this progressive disease gradually invades your gums and can easily reach advanced stages before you notice any issues.
Plaque collects on your teeth and along the gum line. If it is not brushed away quickly or often enough, it hardens into a rough, porous deposit known as tartar or calculus. Gums become irritated and pockets soon develop between the teeth and gums. Bacteria accumulate and may lead to further health problems such as cardiovascular disease. Only your dentist will be able to remove plaque once it's hardened as specific tools will be required.
If periodontitis is allowed to advance, it can cause deterioration in the gums and loss of bone structure — and eventually even tooth loss. It's true that gum disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults.
That's why it's vital to maintain a rigorous daily hygiene routine of brushing and flossing, along with attending regular dental hygiene appointments. Your dentist will use this time to remove plaque, prevent oral diseases and maintain your oral health.
While periodontitis is typically painless in its early stages (gingivitis), it gradually invades your gums and is a progressive disease that can easily reach advanced stages before you notice any problems.
After plaque collects on your teeth and along the gum line, it hardens into a rough, porous deposit known as calculus or tartar. Pockets develop between the teeth and gums become irritated. Bacteria soon collect and can lead to further health issues such as cardiovascular disease. Only your dentist will be able to remove the plaque once it's hardened as specific tools will be needed.
If periodontitis advances, it can cause gum deterioration and loss of bone structure — and eventually, even tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults.
That's why maintaining a rigorous daily hygiene routine of brushing and flossing, along with attending regular dental hygiene appointments, is so important to helping to remove plaque, prevent oral diseases and maintain your 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. Certain medications can contribute to and aggravate gum disease, including antidepressants, heart medicines and oral contraceptives.
Increase your consumption of vitamins A and C, which are part of a healthy diet that can help prevent periodontitis. Conversely, cut sugary and starchy foods, which allow plaque to build.
Have dental issues treated quickly. Correct dental problems or oral health issues such as teeth grinding, misaligned or crowded teeth. It can be more challenging to properly clean teeth that aren’t properly spaced, thus providing room for plaque to grow and thrive.
Gently massage your gums. Along with brushing and flossing regularly (at least twice a day for two minutes each time for brushing, and once daily for thorough flossing), show your gums some love by gently massaging them, which increases blood flow to the tissue.
Use fluoride toothpaste.This key ingredient removes the buildup of plaque bacteria along the gum line without irritating gums.
Quit smoking. Smoking is not only strongly associated with the onset of gum disease, it makes it more difficult for your gums to heal once they’re damaged, as smoking weakens 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 staying healthy.
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.
Regular oral hygiene - and reducing your personal risk factors - will go a long way in the fight to prevent gum disease. Our gums are as important as our teeth when it comes to our oral health, so it’s important not to neglect them.