Steps To Prevent Gum Disease

February 25, 2020

Preventing Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is more common than you might think. More than 47% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease, and more than 70% of people over age 65 have it. Although gum disease is common, it’s not inevitable. Knowing how to prevent gum disease can help you keep your mouth healthy. The dentists at AZ Family Dental are happy to work with you to protect your teeth, gums and other parts of your mouth. Dr. Justin Ewell and Dr. Matt Parker are both passionate about dentistry and dedicated to helping their patients to achieve beautiful smiles. Learn more about the causes of gum disease, ways to keep your gums healthy, and what gum disease treatments are available.

Could I Get Gum Disease?

Gum disease occurs when the gums, which hold the teeth in place, become infected or inflamed. A buildup of bacteria in the mouth is usually the cause of gum or periodontal disease.

Everyone has mouth bacteria. When you eat and drink, the sugar in your food provides food for the bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria then form plaque, a sticky substance that coats your teeth and gums. When you brush your teeth and floss, you remove some of the plaque, helping to protect yourself from gum disease and cavities. If you don’t brush your teeth regularly, however, the plaque can harden, forming a substance called tartar. Tartar is a lot more difficult to get rid of than plaque. You’ll usually need to see a dentist for a professional cleaning if you have a lot of tartar build-up.

Not only is tartar tricky to remove, but it can also irritate your gums, creating inflammation. When the gums are inflamed, they bleed more easily. They can also start to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets where more bacteria can grow.

Although gum disease can happen to anyone, some people are more at risk for developing it than others. Smoking cigarettes or using tobacco products increases your risk of gum disease, for example. Other risk factors include:

  • Having crooked teeth
  • Having diabetes
  • Being pregnant or taking birth control pills
  • Having dry mouth
  • Having a family history of gum disease
  • Having poor oral hygiene habits

Gum Disease Preventive Steps

When it comes to gum disease, preventing it is often preferable to having to treat it. Preventing gum disease naturally is relatively simple, as long as you follow a regular oral care routine and see a dentist regularly. The following steps can help you avoid gum disease symptoms:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day: Brushing your teeth helps to remove plaque, bits of food, and bacteria that build up on the teeth and gums. Brushing at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste is ideal. When you brush, also clean your tongue to remove any bacteria from its surface.
  • Floss at least once a day: Flossing daily gets rid of food pieces and bacteria that are between the teeth or along the gumline. Usually, brushing alone isn’t able to get bits of food that are trapped between the teeth. If you aren’t sure how to floss, a dentist can give you a demonstration. If using string floss is too difficult, pre-threaded flossers are available. Some people find it easier to get a flosser between their teeth or to reach the back teeth with a flosser.
  • Understand your risk factors: Knowing if you have any risk factors for gum disease and what you can do about those risk factors can help you prevent it. For example, if you smoke, quitting smoking can reduce your risk of developing gum disease. Your diet might also affect your risk of getting gum disease. The bacteria that cause periodontal disease love sugar, so eating a lot of sweet foods can put you at an increased risk. Sugary foods also increase your risk of developing cavities.
  • See a dentist for cleanings and exams: Although cleaning your teeth and gums at home can help reduce your chances of developing gum disease considerably, working with a dentist is also important. Your dentist can perform a professional cleaning, removing tartar from the teeth and gumline. As part of the checkup, they’ll also examine your gums, looking for signs of inflammation, and they’ll measure the pockets between the teeth and gums. When your mouth is generally healthy, the pockets will be between one and three millimeters. Deeper pocket depth is often a sign of early or later stages of gum disease. It’s a good idea to see your dentist at least twice a year for a cleaning and exam.
  • Consider correcting issues with your teeth: If your teeth are misaligned or if there are large spaces between them, you might have a higher risker of getting gum disease. Bacteria and food can get stuck in the spaces between your teeth or in the areas where teeth overlap, irritating the gums and contributing to inflammation. Orthodontic treatment can help to correct the alignment of your teeth, potentially reducing your gum disease risk.

Is It Time to Visit the Dentist?

If it’s been more than six months since your last visit to the dentist, it’s time to schedule a new appointment. During your visit, a dentist will clean your teeth, examine your teeth and gums, and answer any questions you have about gum disease and oral hygiene.

Although gum disease often does not have signs or symptoms until the later stages, there are things to keep an eye out for. If you notice any of the following, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with a dentist:

  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Gums that bleed easily, such as when you brush or floss
  • Gums that are pulling away from the teeth, leaving more of the tooth exposed
  • Ongoing bad breath
  • A change in your bite
  • Teeth that feel loose
  • Pus or sores in the mouth or on the gums

During your visit, the dentist will examine your mouth, clean your teeth and gums, and talk to you about treatment options, if needed. In the earliest stages, a deep cleaning and regular follow-up with a dentist can be enough to reverse gum disease. More advanced forms of the disease usually require more in-depth treatments, including surgery in some cases.

Visit AZ Family Dental for Periodontal Care Today

The dentists at AZ Family Dental value the health of your teeth and gums. We understand that the health of your mouth reflects the health of your body overall. We offer periodontal care to help treat gum disease at a variety of stages. We are also happy to discuss preventive care measures you can take to reduce the risk of gum disease. Contact us today to learn more and to schedule an appointment.

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