Your periodontal (gum) health is no less important than your dental (tooth) health, and yet, many people focus almost exclusively on teeth when they think about oral hygiene and oral health.
All too often, people ignore gum health until it develops into advanced gum disease. Prevention is the best cure – but for those who have mild periodontal disease, early treatment is the best way to stop gum disease in its tracks and reclaim your oral health.
Below, we will look at what makes the gums so important, how to prevent gum disease, and how to treat it if you get it.
Your Gums Are an Amazing Part of Your Body!
Your gum tissue is uniquely designed to protect your teeth. It wraps around the roots and base of teeth – the most vulnerable part of a tooth if it is exposed.
Gums keep plaque, tartar, and enamel-eating bacteria from devastating your tooth roots and causing tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults in the US today.
Another thing that gums do is to protect the lower portion of your teeth against shocks and bumps. Accidentally hitting your tooth on something, knocking it hard during a fall, or having hard foods you eat scrape against it would be much more problematic if not for gum tissue.
Finally, it should be noted that gum health is a major indicator of both oral health and overall body health. While we don’t yet fully understand all the cause-effect relationships involved, we do know that one’s risk of heart disease, strokes, Alzheimer’s, dementia, some forms of diabetes, chronic respiratory problems, birth defects, and more are significantly increased when one’s gums are unhealthy.
How You Can Lower Your Risk of Getting Gum Disease
While there is no way to simply guarantee you will not ever get gum disease, there are things everyone can do to greatly reduce the risk. Actions you can take to dramatically increase the likelihood of NOT getting gum disease include:
- Maintain a regular oral hygiene routine. That means daily brushing and flossing. It’s best to care for your oral hygiene at least twice a day, once after breakfast and once just before bed – if not more.
- Make regular use of an antiseptic mouth rinse a part of your oral hygiene regimen. This helps kill germs on the gums and between teeth and wash away any residual food particles.
- Use a toothpick or a floss stick to scrape away plaque along your gum line. Otherwise, a sticky film will remain there and fester with bacterial colonies that can dig down below your gums over time, creating “deep periodontal pockets.”
- If you smoke or drink heavily, realize that this increases your risk of poor gum health substantially. It would be best to give up such habits in order to save your gums and your oral health.
- If you don’t follow a steadily healthy diet, you increase the chances of having gum problems down the road. Fresh fruits and vegetables and plenty of water will do wonders for your mouth – while a high-sugar diet can devastate it.
- Be sure to schedule a regular dental and/or periodontal checkup every year. This will help alert you to any problems developing and give you valuable oral cleaning.
- Know the tell-tale signs of the onset of gum disease, like persistent bleeding of the gums, inflammation of gum tissue, and pains or sores on the gums. If you even suspect you have gum disease, schedule a special appointment with your periodontist without delay.
What to Do If you Suspect You Already Have Gum Disease
If you suspect you have gum disease, even in the early stages (as mentioned above), see your periodontist as soon as possible. He or she will diagnose your mouth and suggest various treatment options if you do have some form or stage of periodontal disease.
In many cases, you will not have actual periodontal disease but may have pre-cursors to it. You may even have the very earliest stages of gingivitis (the mildest form and first stage of gum disease) and not have to undergo any kind of dental procedure. You may just need to step up your game on oral hygiene, use some special toothpaste, floss, toothpaste, or mouthwash, or change your diet or personal habits (like smoking).
If you do have gum disease and need treatment, you should consider laser periodontal treatment. While in some cases, another treatment method like root planing & scaling, gum flap surgery, or gum grafts might be preferable, laser periodontal treatment is the most advanced and beneficial way to treat gum disease in most cases.
Laser periodontal treatment is virtually painless, to the point most people need no anesthetic. Some prefer to utilize oral dental sedation, but this isn’t necessary. There is much milder swelling or bleeding or the gums post-op with laser surgery. And recovery time is shortened greatly. These are only a few of the reasons that so many people are choosing laser treatment these days.
To learn more about laser periodontal treatment or other ways to treat periodontal (gum) disease or to schedule a checkup or another appointment-type, contact Ormond Beach Periodontics & Implant Dentistry in Central Florida today!