How To Prevent Periodontal Disease
When people think about oral care, they are mostly focused on their teeth. But there’s a lot more that goes into a healthy mouth than just your teeth. The well being of your gums is just as important, as it is your gums that support your teeth. Infected gums can lead to a lot of annoying, painful, and in some cases, very severe problems if not treated in a timely manner.
Many Oklahomans will experience periodontal disease at some point in their lives. While the majority of cases are not severe and can easily be treated with a healthy regimen, left unchecked, gum disease can develop into something far more troubling. That’s why it’s important to form healthy habits at a young age and to regularly see a dentist before a minor problem gets out of hand.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease, which is commonly referred to as gum disease, is an inflammatory condition that afflicts the soft tissue surrounding the teeth. One form of periodontal disease is known as gingivitis, which is early stage gum disease. It involves the gums becoming swollen and may even result in bleeding from the gums. Even more troubling, severe periodontal disease is known as periodontitis, and can result in the loss of bone and teeth.
In order to diagnose periodontal disease, a dentist will need to inspect the gum tissue, and may even have to take x-rays to check for bone loss around the teeth. It is estimated that more than a half a billion people worldwide suffer from gum disease every year. Here in the United States, more than half the people over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease, and that number goes up to 70% for people over the age of 65. It should also be noted that males are more likely to be afflicted than females.
What are the main causes of periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is most often the result of bacteria in the mouth that leads to infections of the gums. This is most frequently due to inadequate oral hygiene, such as not brushing enough or using mouthwash. But there are a number of other behaviors that can increase the risk of becoming infected, such as smoking, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, family history, and certain medications.
A failure to properly clean your teeth will lead to the build up of bacteria and dental plaque. These toxins will cause the soft tissues of the mouth to become infected and begin to deteriorate. The longer it goes untreated, the further the infection will spread, afflicting the jaws and surrounding bones of the mouth. Next, the gums will recede away from the teeth, creating pockets that can lead to further infection. In the most severe cases, the teeth will become loose and may need to be extracted.
What other health problems have been linked to periodontal disease?
Furthermore, studies indicate that gum disease can also have an overall negative impact on a person’s health, resulting in a higher chance of other problems. For instance, infected gums can lead to clogged arteries and heart disease, or at the very least worsen someone’s pre-existing heart condition. Strokes and respiratory disease have also been linked to gum infections, such as when the bacteria from the mouth spreads to the lungs. People are also at higher risk for diabetes and premature birth.
What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?
So how does a person know when they have gum disease? The best way to be sure is to visit a dentist, but there are a number of symptoms that might indicate gingivitis. The most common symptoms of periodontal disease include some combination of the following:
- Chronic bad breath
- Swelling of the gums, or general tenderness around the teeth
- A reddening of the gums
- Bleeding from the gums
- Difficulty chewing
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
If you are suffering these or similar symptoms, you should schedule a dental visit immediately.
How to prevent periodontal disease from occurring
The first step to preventing periodontal disease is to identify whether or not you are in a high-risk category. As already mentioned, as people age, they become more prone to gum disease. Other factors that can increase your chances of suffering from periodontal disease are smoking and diet. If you are dealing with heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, or other condition linked to gum disease, it’s also important that you pay more attention to your gums.
It’s also essential to practice good oral hygiene. Brush after every meal, floss regularly, and use mouthwash that has anti-bacterial ingredients. When brushing, don’t just concentrate on your teeth, but also make sure to include your tongue and the roof of your mouth.
Eating healthy is another way to prevent gum disease. Avoid sugary foods and beverages, excess coffee, and other foods that can lead to poor oral health.
How can periodontal disease be treated?
The first step in treatment will be a professional cleaning. For most minor cases, regular cleanings from your dentist should be enough. Your dentist may also recommend antibiotics. The goal is always to control, and then remove any infection.
In the more severe cases, oral surgery may be necessary. If the infection has spread too far and caused too much damage, it may mean that one or more teeth will have to be pulled. This is why it’s so important that periodontal disease be treated early before it gets out of control.
Your Grove, Oklahoma Periodontal Disease Specialist
While most cases of periodontal disease are easily treatable, if left uncared for, gum disease can lead to severe problems. It’s for this reason that Dr. Karl Jobst and the entire team at Grand Lake Dental make prevention a big part of everything we do. We always take the time to educate our patients on how to best prevent gum disease from erupting in the first place.
The staff at Grand Lake Dental has been serving families in the Grove, Oklahoma, region for almost two decades. Our commitment to the community goes well beyond dentistry, and we like to treat everyone who comes into our offices like a member of our own family. Contact us today to schedule a visit.