Periodontal disease, commonly referred to as gum disease, is a serious health issue, and it can range from mild to severe. Fortunately, it’s usually reversible, especially in its early stages, and so the sooner you take steps to avoid periodontal disease, the better the long-term outlook for your oral health. One big part of preventing gum disease is to visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups, but there are other steps you can take on your own too.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease describes a collection of conditions that affect your gums, including gingivitis and periodontitis. Both of these are caused by bacteria that make up the plaque that develops on your teeth over time. Particularly if this plaque is allowed to build up along the gum line, it can create separation, or pockets, between the gums and the teeth. When bacteria get into these pockets, they cause inflammation and irritation of the gums in the area.
Over time, this inflammation can spread and cause deterioration of the gums and bone, leading to tooth loss. Some other symptoms of gum disease to watch for are:
- frequent bleeding of your gums during brushing
- separating or receding gums
- chronic bad breath
- pus developing around the gum line
- loose teeth or changes in the alignment of your teeth noticeable when you bite
- changes in the way dentures fit
Although any of these could mean you have developed some level of gum disease, it’s important to see a dentist to obtain a definitive diagnosis. It’s also possible to slow or reverse the progression of the disease in many cases by making some simple changes to your routine.
How You Can Lower Your Risk
In order to lower your risk for developing periodontal disease, it’s important to brush your teeth well twice a day. Using a different toothbrush in the morning and at night can be helpful as well, as is flossing once per day. Another risk factor for gum disease is the use of tobacco products, and so avoiding these is a good step to take as well.
Your dentist may recommend a mouthwash for you to use to help eliminate bacteria, and they may also show you how to brush properly along the gum line to keep plaque from building up there. Maintaining good overall health can lower your chances of developing periodontal disease also, and eating a well-balanced diet, including a few raw vegetables every day, and getting enough exercise and sleep all contribute to that.
The Importance of Regular Dental Checkups
One of the most important steps you can take to avoid gum disease is to visit the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Periodontal disease, if left untreated, can have a detrimental impact on your overall health and quality of life, as it often causes tooth loss and the weakening of the bones in your jaw. There is also research to suggest that gum disease increases your risk of developing some other serious health conditions including heart disease and diabetes.
No matter how long it’s been since your last dental checkup or what your concerns are, it’s never too late to start taking steps to combat periodontal disease. Call Suwanee Center for Family Dentistry today at (770) 224-0140 to learn more or to schedule an appointment.