Having healthy gums is essential for maintaining a functional and attractive smile. Without healthy gums, we wouldn’t be able to effectively bite, chew, speak, smile, or laugh. Poor gum health can also put a damper on our confidence and cause severe pain and discomfort.
A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that over 47 percent of American adults over 30 years have some form of gum disease. The risk of having gum disease also increases with age, as 70 percent of adults over 65 years have gum disease.
Gum health is more important than many patients sometimes realize. Our friendly team at Palm Family Dentistry is always delighted to share our knowledge and helpful hints with patients and their families.
But before we go into detail on how to prevent gum disease, let’s first cover some of the basics.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease occurs when a buildup of a sticky film of bacteria (plaque) beneath and along the gumline. As the plaque hardens, it becomes tartar or calculus. Plaque and tartar not only mar the smile's appearance but also cause gum inflammation, oral infections, and tooth decay.
An overabundance of oral bacteria can also lead to the earliest stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, untreated or uncontrolled gum disease can cause serious health conditions like tooth loss, jawbone deterioration, heart disease, and diabetes.
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease is often characterized by the following signs and symptoms:
- Bad breath
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Gum recession
- Sore and tender gums
- Bleeding when flossing or brushing
- Bright red or dark red gums
Gingivitis is preventable and reversible with good oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist. However, the more serious stage known as periodontal disease is not reversible. But, there's no need to worry; your dental team at Palm Family Dentistry are experts in controlling gum disease and minimizing the symptoms.
In addition to gentle and effective gum disease treatment, we offer patient education opportunities, and we always enjoy sharing helpful tips and tricks for keeping your smile healthy.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
#1 Brush Twice Daily
Brushing twice daily with ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste cleans your teeth and protects them from decay. When you brush your teeth and your tongue, you’re removing food particles and bacteria from the mouth and reducing your risk of gum disease. Make sure your toothbrush is easy to maneuver, soft-bristled, and replaced every few months or until the bristles start to fray.
#2 Floss Every Day
Flossing every day helps remove food debris, plaque, and bacteria buildup from the places your toothbrush can’t quite reach. The American Dental Association (ADA) states that daily flossing can prevent gum disease and tooth decay, and it’s an essential part of the oral hygiene process.
#3 Use Fluoride
Fluoride toothpaste fights cavities and keeps your mouth healthy. You can use any fluoride toothpaste with the ADA seal of acceptance unless your dentist states otherwise. You can also drink fluoridated water to reduce the risk of harmful dental bacteria and decay.
#4 Rinse with a Therapeutic Mouthwash
Therapeutic mouthwashes reduce plaque, gingivitis, tooth decay, and bad breath, according to the ADA. They also minimize your risk of having a dry mouth, which can also lead to gum inflammation.
#5 Stop Smoking
Smoking and tobacco use weakens your immune system, making fighting off a gum infection more difficult. The CDC confirms that smoking and gum disease are closely linked, and a smoker has twice the risk of developing gum disease than a nonsmoker.
#6 Know Your Risks
Certain factors can increase your chance of developing gum disease, such as age, certain medical conditions, tobacco use, diet, and genetics. If you have an increased risk, talk with your dental hygienist about possible prevention and treatment plans.
#7 Get Regular Dental Cleanings and Exams
Only a dentist can effectively clear away plaque and tartar from the teeth and below the gumline. Professional teeth cleanings can keep your teeth clean and your gums healthy and infection-free.
Your dentist also diagnoses and prevents oral health issues like gum disease from occurring or getting worse. Dr. Patterson and our dental team support you in managing your oral health (including your gums) as part of your whole-body wellness. Let us help you reclaim your gum health so you can enjoy a beautiful smile for many years to come.
Schedule Your Periodontal Exam Today!
If you suspect you have gum disease or you would like to learn more about gum disease prevention, don't let your smile suffer any longer. Please contact the skilled and experienced team at Palm Family Dentistry.
We provide comprehensive dental care and preventive dentistry to patients of all ages in Prairieville, Baton Rouge, and all surrounding areas. Whatever your oral health needs may be, we are here to help you!