Periodontal disease can have a negative impact on both your oral and overall health. In this blog, our dentists in Winnipeg talk about periodontitis and how you can help prevent it.
What is periodontitis (gum disease)?
Periodontitis is also known as gum disease and it can be defined as a progressive condition that invades your gums over time. It's generally painless at first in its earlier stages so you don't even feel it until it progresses into it's advanced stages.
Plaque builds up on your teeth and gum line, then it hardens into a porous, rough deposit called tartar or calculus. Pockets develop between the teeth and irritated gums, when bacteria collects there, it can lead to other health conditions such as cardiovascular disease. Once the plaque has hardened, only your dentist will be able to remove it.
When periodontitis is in its advanced stages it could cause loss of bone structure and deterioration of gums it could even eventually lead to tooth loss.
That’s why removing plaque with a rigorous daily hygiene routine of brushing and flossing as well as attending regular dental hygiene appointments are so important for prevention – and for maintaining your oral health.
How can I prevent periodontitis?
There are also some less obvious tips that could help you avoid gum disease or lower your risk of developing it. You might want to:
Take inventory of your medications. Certain medications can contribute to and aggravate gum disease, including antidepressants, heart medicines, and oral contraceptives.
Increase your consumption of vitamins A and C, which are part of a healthy diet that could help prevent periodontitis. Otherwise, cut sugary and starchy foods, which allow plaque to build.
Have dental issues treated quickly. Correct dental problems or oral health issues such as teeth grinding, misaligned or crowded teeth. It can be more challenging to properly clean teeth that aren’t spaced properly, thus providing room for plaque to grow and thrive.
Gently massage your gums. Along with brushing and flossing regularly (at least twice a day for two minutes each time for brushing, and once daily for thorough flossing), give your gums some extra attention by gently massaging them, which increases blood flow to the tissue.
Use fluoride toothpaste. This key ingredient helps to remove the buildup of plaque bacteria along the gum line without irritating gums.
Quit smoking. Smoking isn't just strongly associated with the onset of gum disease, it makes it more difficult for your gums to heal once they’re damaged, as smoking can weaken the immune system.
Know your risks. Whether genetics, diet, age, smoking, or other factors make you more susceptible to periodontitis, knowledge is power when it comes to reducing your risk and staying healthy.
Bonus: Ask your dentist about periodontal disease treatment. The earlier your dentist finds periodontitis (if you do get it), the better. That's because it's easier to treat gum disease in its earlier stages than when it has advanced to the point that you start to lose teeth or jaw bone tissue. Depending on how far the disease has progressed and its severity, there are surgical and non-surgical options for treatment.
Regular oral hygiene - and reducing your personal risk factors - will go a long way in the fight to help prevent gum disease. Our gums are as important as our teeth when it comes to our oral health, so it’s essential not to neglect them.