What Is Gum Disease and How Can It Be Prevented?
Gum disease, also called periodontitis, is a much more common dental hygiene issue than you may think. A recent CDC report provides the following data related to the prevalence of periodontitis in the United States:
“47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease increases with age, 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease. This condition is more common in men than women (56.4% vs 38.4%), those living below the federal poverty level (65.4%), those with less than a high school education (66.9%), and current smokers (64.2%)”
What is Gum Disease?
According to Colgate, “Periodontal disease refers to various levels of severity of infection in the gum tissues. Some of these conditions are relatively easy to treat while others require serious intervention to prevent tooth loss. Gum infection is a common ailment, especially in its less serious forms.”
Gingivitis is a precursor to more severe gum disease but can be treated with extra care. If you notice swollen gums, blood in the sink after you brush your teeth or experience regular gum pain, schedule an appointment with your dentist to evaluate treatment options.
Periodontitis causes inflammation in your gums and the tissues supporting your teeth. When gum tissues become inflamed a periodontal pocket develops where bacteria have invaded, this can cause pain and gum recession. As the infection becomes more serious, gum tissue and bone may become damaged, which may result in tooth decay or loss.
How to Treat and Prevent Gum Disease
Luckily, if you catch it early enough, gum disease can be easy to treat.
Gum disease prevention starts with great dental hygiene. Here are 6 things you can do to keep your gums healthy:
- Brush your teeth for 2 to 3 minutes a day
- Use an electric toothbrush
- Floss every day
- Eat a healthy diet
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid smoking
If you do all these things on a regular basis you will be well on your way to healthy gums.
If you already have gum disease, the goal is to get the infection under control, and then figure out how it got started.
According to WebMd, the first line of treatment is a careful in-depth cleaning.
“Unlike a regular cleaning, which is usually only done above the gum line, deep cleaning goes under the gum line. The dentist will also use special instruments.
Your dentist can do something called scaling. That’s scraping off the tartar both above and below your gum line. They may also do something called root planing. That’s when the rough surfaces of the roots of your teeth are smoothed out. It helps the gums reattach to your tooth.
Both methods may take more than one visit to the dentist.”
The best method to avoid gum disease is regular dentist appointments. Your dentist will notice issues before you do and can recommend treatment early.
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