Gum disease is a common and serious issue. Nearly 50% of adults who are at least 30 years old have gum disease while seven in 10 adults 65 years old or older experience it. Gum disease not only makes your gums swollen, sore, or infected, but it also can lead to tooth loss when not treated. When you have gum disease in the early stage, called gingivitis, your gums may bleed when you brush your teeth and you may have bad breath. As the disease progresses, periodontitis develops, which affects the tissue that supports the teeth and holds them in place. Many adults have trouble with their gums, even though they may be brushing and flossing regularly. At your Fuquay-Varina dentist, Hamby Family Dental Center, we assess our patients’ teeth and gums as well as help patients learn how to avoid gum disease by taking proper actions in their oral care. In this article, you’ll read about the causes of gum disease and what you can do to prevent it.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky material that forms a film over your teeth. It is made from leftover food particles and saliva. If you don’t brush properly after meals, plaque begins to form and builds up on your teeth. Plaque contains bacteria that cause infection, leading to tooth decay and gum disease. Over time plaque becomes tartar which is much more difficult to remove. When gum disease isn’t treated in the early stage, it progresses to an advanced stage where the gums’ inner layer pulls away from the teeth and forms pockets. In this stage, bone loss occurs and the support for teeth lessens.
How Does Gum Disease Affect Health?
Gum disease can seriously affect your overall health. The bacteria that cause periodontitis can enter the bloodstream through the gum tissue and can affect other parts of the body. Gum disease has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, coronary artery disease, respiratory and lung disease, stroke, and arthritis.
What are the Symptoms of a Gum Infection?
You may have a gum infection if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Bad breath even though you just brushed your teeth
- Swollen, bleeding, or tender gums
- Toothaches and pain while chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Teeth that appear longer than usual due to gums wearing away
What Prevents Gum Disease?
You can prevent gum disease by using good oral health habits. Here are some ways to stave off plaque becoming a problem:
Eat a healthy diet
You may wonder how eating a healthy diet affects the plaque build-up on your teeth. Eating fewer carbohydrates and sugars lessens the amount of plaque that forms on your teeth. Eat more green, leafy vegetables and avoid candy, cookies, and other sweet foods as much as possible because these foods create more plaque. However, many healthy foods like bread, cereal, potatoes, and corn have carbohydrates. It can be difficult to eliminate these foods entirely from your diet. Just be aware of how many of these foods you have in your diet and cut down if you are eating them excessively.
Brush and Floss Daily
One of the best things you can do to prevent gum disease is to brush and floss twice a day. Good oral hygiene prevents the development of an environment around your teeth that is favorable to bacteria that cause gum disease. Flossing before you brush loosens food particles and bacteria while brushing removes plaque that has built up on your teeth each day. Brushing your teeth for two minutes in the morning and before you go to bed at night is the recommended practice. You may find that using an electric toothbrush or a Waterpik helps you do a more thorough job. A toothbrush with soft bristles is easier on the gums and still gets the job done. Using a toothpaste that specifically addresses controlling tartar can remove plaque from your teeth before it hardens and becomes tartar.
Use an Antibacterial Mouthwash
Clinical studies have shown that antibacterial mouthwashes can reduce plaque biofilm, kill bacteria in places below the gums that are difficult to reach, and eliminate bacteria on non-tooth oral surfaces including the cheeks and tongue. Avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes because they can cause dryness of the mouth, which increases the risk of gum disease. Look for a mouthwash that has antibacterial active ingredients labeled “antiplaque” and “antigingivitis.” Mouthwashes that contain both fluoride and antibacterial ingredients will help strengthen your teeth against decay and reduce your risk of gum disease.
Visit the Dentist Regularly
Seeing a dentist regularly, once or twice yearly, can help prevent gum disease from either beginning or progressing. If you have an increased risk of developing gum problems, for example, if you smoke or have diabetes, your dentist may recommend that you come more frequently. During a dental checkup a dentist checks for signs of gum infections. If your gums are swollen or bleed easily, it could be from gingivitis. Your dental care provider will use a probe to check for pockets between the gums and teeth.
Schedule a Checkup with Hamby Family Dental Center Today
Scheduling a dental checkup with Hamby Family Dental Center will help in preventing gum disease from starting or progressing. Our team is knowledgeable about the signs of gingivitis. We will diagnose your gum issues and get you started on a plan of action. Let us help you keep your gums and teeth healthy! Contact us today at 919-552-2431 or fill out the form below.