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How to Prevent Gum Diseases

A close-up shot of someone having their teeth examined.

According to the CDC, 47.2% of American adults aged 30 and older suffer from some form of periodontal or gum disease. In fact, gum disease and tooth decay are two of the biggest threats to dental health in the U.S. Fortunately, gum disease is easily preventable. Read on to learn more about periodontal disease, its symptoms, and how to protect yourself from gum disease.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, refers to the infection of the gum line caused by the bacteria in dental plaque. When left untreated, it can cause severe damage to your mouth’s soft tissues, destroy the bones supporting your teeth, and even affect your overall health.

Gingivitis is not only the most common type of gum disease, but it is also considered to be the earliest stage of periodontal disease. If you don’t pay attention to your oral health and get regular dental checkups, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease. It is more challenging to treat and can even cause tooth loss.

The most common cause of periodontal disease is poor oral hygiene, and plaque and tartar buildup in the crevices of your teeth. Other risk factors include:

  • Smoking or chewing tobacco.

  • Hormonal changes, especially during pregnancy and menopause.

  • Obesity.

  • Poor diet.

  • Health conditions that result in a weak immune system like HIV/AIDS and cancer.

  • Diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease.

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

Gum disease can be tricky to diagnose as there are very few symptoms and little pain in the beginning. Some of the signs you need to watch out for are:

  • Swollen/Bleeding Gums

  • Shifting/Loose Teeth

  • Bad Breath

  • Plaque Buildup

  • Tooth Sensitivity

  • Loose Teeth

  • Pain While Chewing

  • New Gaps between Teeth

Luckily, if these symptoms are treated early while the infection is still in the gingivitis stage, your chance of total recovery is high. But, once gingivitis develops into periodontitis, it can start affecting the bones that keep your teeth in place. If you notice any of these symptoms, visit an experienced dentist immediately.

Gum Disease and Overall Health

Bleeding and tooth loss aren’t the only health concerns associated with gum disease. Unhealthy gums have been linked to other health conditions like:

  • Atherosclerosis and Heart Disease

  • Stroke

  • Diabetes

  • Respiratory Disease/Infection

  • Dementia

With so much at stake, you can’t afford to compromise on your oral health!

6 Ways to Protect Your Gums from Gingivitis & Periodontitis

Toothbrush with a nurdle of toothpaste, dental floss, and antibacterial mouthwash.

Floss Every Day

According to the American Dental Association, you should floss daily to remove the plaque and food stuck between your teeth. It doesn’t matter whether you floss first thing in the morning or before going to bed—as long as you do it at least once a day.

A 2018 study suggests that it is better to floss first and then brush. Flossing loosens the bacteria and food debris between your teeth, making it easy to clean them away while brushing.

Additionally, brushing second can increase fluoride concentration in the interdental plaque, which in turn can strengthen the enamel and reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Know Your Symptoms

As mentioned above, periodontal disease is easy to miss in the early stages. Remember, a healthy gum is firm, pale pink, and fits snugly around the teeth. If you have persistent bad breath or swollen gums that bleed while brushing or flossing your teeth, visit your dentist immediately.

When caught in the early gingivitis stage, gum disease can be successfully controlled and even reversed with a thorough dental cleaning and an improved oral care routine.

On the other hand, periodontitis requires scaling and root planing, which involves a deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. Your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics or even surgery for severe cases of periodontitis to prevent tooth loss.

Brush Twice a Day

Brushing twice a day removes food and plaque trapped between your teeth and gums. Don’t forget to clean your tongue, as it can also host bacteria.

A toothbrush with soft bristles that fits comfortably in your mouth is ideal for brushing. You can also consider using an electric toothbrush. Multiple studies show that they remove more plaque than manual toothbrushes and are also more effective at reducing gingivitis.

It is best to swap toothbrushes every three to four months or earlier if the bristles start to fray.

Use Fluoride Toothpaste and Antibacterial Mouthwash

Fluoride toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Acceptance can effectively help reduce tooth sensitivity, treat gingivitis or tartar build-up, and prevent enamel erosion. It also has several cosmetic benefits, including whitening your teeth and getting rid of bad breath.

Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash provides you with added protection against gum disease. But, remember, mouthwash is not a substitute for bruising and flossing. You can always talk to your dentist about the best dental care products you need to keep your mouth clean and healthy.

Quit Smoking

According to the CDC, smoking weakens your immune system and makes it harder for you to fight off gum infections. Moreover, tobacco products slow down the fight against bacteria, making it more difficult for the infected gums to heal.

Regular Dental Checkups

Scheduling a visit with your dentist every six months is the best way to protect your gums from gingivitis and periodontitis. This allows your dentist to detect and treat gum disease symptoms before they become more serious.

Regular cleaning by an experienced dental professional is the most effective way to get rid of tartar and any plaque you missed while brushing and flossing.

If you are worried about swollen or bleeding gums, visit Clay & Associates DDS, PLC in Fort Dodge, Iowa! Our experienced dental professionals provide a range of services for all your dental needs, from periodic oral check-ups to emergency dental care at all times. Call us at 515-573-760, or book an appointment today to get started!


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