Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a bacterial infection. It’s caused by plaque that turns to tartar and then builds up between the gums and teeth. The bacteria-filled tartar is like a splinter irritating your gums, causing them to bleed and become inflamed. Left untreated, gum disease can cause bone deterioration and tooth loss.
It is important to know how to take care of your gums, since gum disease is associated with other conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. With some tips for gum care and consistent good oral hygiene, gum disease can be prevented.
Tips for Healthy Gums
The key to good oral health — including teeth, gums and the supporting bone structure — is to regularly remove food particles and plaque before it hardens to tartar that wedges between the gums and teeth. Here are some gum health tips:
Brush your teeth after every meal and, at minimum, twice a day. Bacteria accumulate on your tongue and the insides of your cheeks, so be sure to brush there as well. Your dentist may recommend an electric toothbrush, since it is superior to a manual toothbrush for plaque control.
Flossing at least one time a day disrupts the bacteria colonies between your teeth. Manual flossing or a water flosser is the only way to physically remove the plaque before it becomes tartar.
A final rinse of mouthwash freshens your mouth by removing any dislodged food particles. Using an alcohol-free mouth rinse is recommended because it doesn’t cause dry mouth issues.
Know Your Risk
Factors that put you at an increased risk for gum disease — such as smoking, age, pregnancy, menopause and genetics — should be discussed with your dentist. A diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates also increases your risk of developing gum disease.
Have a Periodontal Evaluation
A complete periodontal probing should be done once a year to identify any areas of concern. If gum disease is diagnosed in the initial stages, it can be treated before bone loss occurs. Increasing your dental visits to every three or four months instead of every six months will keep gum disease in check.
See Your Dentist
If you notice bleeding or receding gums, bad breath, bad taste, changes in your bite or loose teeth, see your dentists immediately. Periodontal disease can go unnoticed until permanent damage occurs, so don’t wait if you have any symptoms.
Taking care of your gums is important, because they are the foundation of your smile. You can have beautiful teeth, but if you lose them to gum disease, it doesn't matter how beautiful they were. Another reason it's important to have healthy gums is that we now know gum disease compromises your overall health. Connections to heart disease and diabetes make having gum disease a serious health concern.
The team at Nirvana Dental can help protect your teeth, gums and overall health. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment and obtain peace of mind.