Our oral health and our overall physical health can be impacted by periodontal disease. Here, our dentists in Chilliwack define periodontitis and offer tips to prevent it.
What is periodontitis (gum disease)?
The progressive condition periodontitis (gum disease) gradually invades your gums and is typically painless in its early stages (gingivitis). It can easily reach an advanced stage before you become aware of any problems.
After plaque accumulates on your teeth and along the gum line, it hardens into a rough, porous deposit known as calculus or tartar. Gums become irritated and pockets form between them and teeth. This is where bacteria collect and may lead to other health issues such as cardiovascular disease. Once it's hardened, only your dentist will have the tools to remove plaque.
In its advanced stages, periodontitis can cause deterioration of gums and loss of bone structure - and eventually, tooth loss. In fact, one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults is gum disease.
That's why practicing a rigorous daily hygiene routine of brushing and flossing to remove plaque in addition to attending regular dental hygiene appointments are key to prevention - and for maintaining your oral health.
How can I prevent periodontitis?
Here are some less obvious tips to help you avoid gum disease or reduce your risk of getting it. You might want to:
Take inventory of your medications. Gum disease may be aggravated by medications, which can also contribute to the condition. These medications include oral contraceptives, antidepressants and heart medicine.
Increase your consumption of vitamins A and C. Thesse are part of a healthy diet that can help prevent periodontitis. Also, cut back on starchy and surgery 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 properly spaced, 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), show your gums some love by gently massaging them, which increases blood flow to the tissue.
Use fluoride toothpaste.This key ingredient removes the buildup of plaque bacteria along the gum line without irritating gums.
Quit smoking. Smoking is not only strongly associated with the onset of gum disease, it makes it more difficult for your gums to heal once they’re damaged, as smoking weakens 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 can detect 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 prevent gum disease. Our gums are as important as our teeth when it comes to our oral health, so it’s important not to neglect them.