How are you to protect your teeth and gums when there are millions of people today that have periodontal disease and don’t have a clue they even have it? Periodontal disease is an oral infection of the surrounding tissues that support your teeth in your mouth. Bacteria that live in your mouth form the plaque that causes the disease. It is not possible to remove all plaque from your teeth and gums, although brushing and flossing is a big help. The plaque that is left behind even after the teeth are cleaned hardens and becomes tartar. Tartar that develops below the gum line agitates and infects the gums. This leads to gum disease.
Fortunately, however, periodontal disease is easily preventable with a few simple steps. The crucial importance of keeping your teeth and gums healthy is a message emphasized by the Pennsylvania Dental Association. There are two stages of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Inflammation begins at first as gingivitis sets in during the early stage of periodontal disease and bacteria forms between the tooth and the gum. During this early stage, daily brushing and flossing can likely reverse periodontal disease. However, without treatment, the more advanced stage of periodontal disease can develop, resulting in irreversible damage to teeth and surrounding bones, as well as the gums.
Periodontitis is more serious because the tissue that holds the teeth to the bone is destroyed, causing tooth roots to be exposed and increasing decay, inflammation and receding gums, resulting in possible tooth loss. There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing periodontal disease, including the use of tobacco. Some other factors that may increase risk are systemic diseases such as diabetes; some medications including steroids, some anti-epilepsy drugs, calcium channel blockers, oral contraceptives and cancer therapy drugs. In addition, bridges that no longer fit properly, crooked teeth, fillings that have become defective and pregnancy.
Research has demonstrated a link between gum disease and coronary artery disease. Experts have shown that people who suffer with gum disease are two times more likely to have coronary artery disease as well. The researchers theorize that bacteria from the mouth hitch a ride in the bloodstream, attaching to the heart’s blood vessels via fatty plaques and causing dangerous, damaging clots to form. The following are tips offered by experts to both maintain optimal dental health and the prevention of periodontal disease. First, brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. This is important because after you remove food from the surface of teeth by brushing, flossing removes other residue from areas that a toothbrush can’t reach.
Trade out your toothbrush for a fresh one every three months or when you notice wear and fraying of the bristles. Another way to help keep reduce tooth decay is by the use of flouride toothpaste and antibacterial mouth rinse. Watch your diet and keep it balanced. Make healthy food choices. Make sure to choose a variety of nutritious foods from the five main food groups of grain, dairy, fruits, meats, vegetables, and poultry. Be sure to visit your dentist every six months for your routine oral checkups and professional cleanings.
If you think you’re developing signs of periodontal disease, don’t wait for your check-up to ask your dentist – call the office immediately. Periodontal disease has a number of distinct symptoms, including red, swollen or tender gums, bleeding gums, receding gums, chronic bad breath, unpleasant taste in the mouth, looseness or separation of permanent teeth, pus coming from the gums between the teeth, changes in the alignment of your teeth when you bite, and any differences in the fit of partial dentures.