A Healthy Smile: Tackling Gum Disease

dentist cleaning patients teeth

It may be simple, but science has shown us the huge impact a smile can make. You should never take your smile for granted. If left untreated, problems like gum disease can rob you of this precious gift. Because there is more to it than meets the eye, it is important understand the causes of and treatment for gum disease.

More than Meets the Eye

Your gums may look okay to you. Even if you are cavity-free, it doesn’t ensure you are in the clear. Gum disease is painless. Many people have no idea they have it. Some risk factors include:

• poor dental hygiene
• tobacco use
• genetic predisposition
• crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
• pregnancy
• diabetes
• medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives

Why is Gum Disease Serious?

Healthy gums are important because they form a tight seal around your teeth to support the bones and provide a barrier to bacteria. When plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) builds up on the teeth, it irritates the gums.

A 2015 study from the American Dental Association reports that chronic gum disease, or periodontitis, affects 47.2% of adults over 30 in the United States. Your dentist may recommend a full mouth debridement to remove plaque and calculus that interferes with their ability to perform a comprehensive oral evaluation.” This involves more time and effort than a regular dental cleaning entails, and may be accompanied by anesthetic to make the procedure more comfortable.

Getting to the root of the problem

Gum disease

If this calculus sits untouched below your gum line, bacteria begin to cause the gum to pull away from the tooth and causes pockets to form. Addition scaling and root planing may be recommended. Scaling involves removal of the plaque and tartar below the gumline, making sure to clean all the way down to the bottom of the pocket. Root planing, involves smoothing out the root of the tooth, allowing your gums to reattach to your teeth. This often takes a series of visits to complete. If you ignore it, the bacteria will destroy the bone, your tooth may become mobile and ultimately may need to be removed.

The Good News

Luckily, most cases of gum disease are reversible and can be treated. Good dental care at home can help keep it from becoming serious or recurring. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

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