Don’t Lose Your Teeth To Gum Disease

If you are like a lot of people, you may assume that tooth loss is the result of tooth decay. Makes sense, right? Well, while an untreated cavity certainly can cause a tooth to fall out, far more teeth are lost to gum disease.

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an inflammatory infection of the gum tissue. Bacteria, plaque, and tartar can build up and wreak havoc, including underneath the gum line. There are two types of gum disease (it’s a progression, really): gingivitis, or early stage, and periodontitis, or late stage. As with many dental issues, the earlier periodontal disease is diagnosed, the simpler treatment will be.

Unfortunately, you have a pretty good chance of getting gingivitis or periodontitis. According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control, almost half of Americans over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. That jumps to 70% for Americans older than 65. And if you are part of that grim statistic, you may not even know it. Periodontal disease is sneaky, often doing its damage without obvious symptoms to its victim.

To stay ahead of gum disease, it’s essential to visit the dentist every six months for a dental cleaning and exam. If you live in or around Panama City, FL, call Panama City Smiles at 850-588-0185 to book your next checkup.

Am I at Risk?

The short answer is yes. If you have gums, you can develop gum disease. But some people have a higher risk than others.

  • Smokers (and people who chew tobacco) are much more likely to develop periodontal disease. And their disease tends to be especially resistant to treatment.
  • Age: the older you are, the more likely you are to have gum disease.
  • Anxiety may cause you to clench or grind your teeth, which is a gum disease risk factor. Stress also makes it more difficult for your body to fight infection.
  • Gum disease runs in families. If you have a genetic susceptibility to it, you have a higher risk even with meticulous oral care habits.
  • Certain systemic health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, can increase your risk for gum disease.
  • Hormonal changes, like during pregnancy and menopause, may lead to periodontal disease.
  • People with poor diets and/or who are obese are at a higher risk.

How Can I Reduce My Risk?

You can’t control your genes or your age. But there are things you can do to lessen your chances of developing gum disease.

  • If you smoke or chew tobacco, do whatever you have to do to stop. These habits are terrible for your gums and overall health.
  • Brush at least twice a day for two minutes, using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Brush thoroughly but gently, and don’t neglect the gumline.
  • Floss daily.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and drink lots of water.
  • Visit Panama City Smiles for your twice-yearly examinations!

What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?

In its early stage (gingivitis), periodontal disease may not present any signs at all. But left untreated, it will progress and symptoms will develop.

  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Bleeding when you brush or floss
  • Pockets between your teeth and gums
  • Gums pulling away from your teeth
  • Teeth look longer than normal
  • Loose teeth, due to lack of support from gums
  • Pus
  • Bad breath that won’t go away
  • A change in your bite, or the way your teeth fit together
  • Pain and/or tooth sensitivity

How Is Gum Disease Treated?

Treatment of periodontal disease depends on its stage and severity. Ideally, it will be caught as early-stage gingivitis. This is generally reversible with regular, thorough dental cleanings and fastidious oral care habits at home. We will be happy to go over proper brushing and flossing technique with you.

If your disease has progressed further, you may require scaling and root planing, which is a deep-cleaning technique done under local anesthesia. We usually break up the procedure into two visits. We clean the teeth from crown to the root, removing built-up bacteria, plaque, and tartar. We then smooth the tooth roots, which helps the gum close tightly against the teeth and prevent ecurrence. We may prescribe antibiotics to ward off infection.

If you’ve developed severe periodontitis, you may require gum grafts or other surgical interventions. We will refer you to a skilled oral surgeon if that’s the case.

Whether you’ve noticed gum disease symptoms or not, it’s imperative you come for a dental examination and cleaning twice a year. If you live near Panama City, FL, call Panama City Smiles at 850-588-0185 to request your next checkup. You may also connect with us online.

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