Periodontal disease can have a negative impact on your oral and physical health. In this blog, our dentists in Manitoba explain what periodontitis is and why it's important to prevent it.
Periodontitis (Gum Disease)
Periodontitis (gum disease) is a progressive condition that gradually infects your gums. Since the beginning stages are usually painless (gingivitis) this illness can easily advance before you realize there is something wrong.
Plaque builds up along your gum line and on your teeth and hardens into tartar (also called calculus) which is a porous tough deposit. Pockets form between the teeth and irritated gums where bacteria gathers, which could cause other health problems including cardiovascular disease. Only your dentist can remove plaque using special tools once it has hardened.
Advanced stages of periodontitis can lead to gum deterioration, bone structure loss, and even tooth loss. In adults, one of the most common causes of tooth loss is gum disease.
That’s why removing plaque with a rigorous daily hygiene routine of brushing and flossing as well as attending regular dental hygiene appointments are key for prevention – and for maintaining your oral health.
How to Prevent Periodontitis
There are a handful of less obvious ways you can prevent gum disease or lower your risk of getting it, such as:
Take inventory of your medications. Some medications can aggravate and contribute to gum disease, including antidepressants, heart medicines, and oral contraceptives.
Increase your intake of vitamins A and C, which are part of a healthy diet and could help prevent periodontitis. Contrarily, cut starchy and sugary foods, which helps plaque build.
Quickly treat any dental problems. Correct dental issues or oral health conditions such as teeth grinding, crowded or misaligned teeth. It can be harder to clean teeth that aren’t spaced properly, therefore giving plaque room 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.