The best way of treating any disease is to catch it as early as possible, and periodontal (gum) disease is no exception. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) informs us that nearly half of all US adults over the age of thirty have some form of gum disease. Conditions vary in acuteness from a mild inflammatory issue (gingivitis) to a much more serious chronic gum disease called periodontitis, which can lead to the loss of teeth. However, there is much reason for optimism because you can improve gum disease.
What Causes Gum Disease?
A fact sheet from the American Academy of Periodontology explains that gum disease is mainly caused by harmful bacteria that adhere to teeth in the form of plaque. However, other factors can make gum disease worse, including inadequate oral hygiene, diabetes, hormonal changes in girls and women, medications that result in dry mouth, smoking, stress, and genetics.
What Are the Early Signs of Gum Disease?
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and can be reversed. Treating the condition early can improve gum disease and stop it from progressing to the point where it affects the bone surrounding the teeth. Here are the symptoms of gingivitis:
- Gums that are red and/or swollen (gums in good shape are pink and firm).
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing.
- Bad breath.
- Noticeable buildup of tartar.
- Sensitive teeth.
How Can Gum Disease Be Reversed?
You can improve gum disease and even reverse it. Here are the steps to follow:
- Practice good oral hygiene. Brushing twice daily with a soft-bristle toothbrush and flossing at least once a day are essential practices. Replace that old and frayed toothbrush – worn bristles don’t clean effectively, especially around the gumline where cleaning is needed the most.
- Keep the mouth moist. Saliva helps wash away bacteria from teeth and gums. Drinking lots of water and using sugarless gum or lozenges helps stimulate saliva flow – this is especially beneficial for dry mouth. A germicidal mouthwash can also help keep down the number of bacteria.
- Eat the right foods. Research shows that eating nutrient-rich foods can boost the immune system and slow down the progression of gum disease. A healthy diet should consist of vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, whole grains, and dairy.
What Can a Dentist Do to Improve Gum Disease?
Regular dental checkups will reveal any early signs of gum disease. Professional cleanings will remove tartar that has resisted your toothbrush. By keeping plaque and tartar away from your teeth, you prevent bacteria from clinging to them long enough for your gums to become diseased. If you live in our area, Old Mt. Pleasant Dentistry will clean your teeth and help your gums return to a healthy pink state. You can improve gum disease, and your teeth and smile will sparkle again. Make an appointment with us today.