In honor of National Gum Care Month, it’s important to educate yourself on the risk factors and symptoms of gum disease and make sure you know the best ways to keep your gums healthy. According to the CDC, half of all adults in the United States now have periodontal disease, but the prevalence rate increases to 70% for seniors. Here’s how to care for your gums to prevent periodontal disease and lower your risk for cardiovascular disease.
What is Gum Disease?
Periodontal or gum disease is very common and potentially serious, but avoidable. Gum disease is classified as either gingivitis or periodontitis depending on the severity. Gingivitis is the most mild form of gum disease and it causes the gums to become red and bleed easily. Gingivitis usually has no discomfort and can be reversed with professional care.
If gingivitis is not treated, it can advanced to periodontitis. This happens when plaque on the teeth spread and begin growing under the gum line. Bacteria in plaque release toxins that irritate the gums and stimulate an inflammatory response, eventually breaking down the bone and tissue that support the teeth. As the disease progresses, it can result in gums separating from the teeth, tooth loss, bone loss, and systemic conditions like heart disease.
Preventing Gum Disease
Gingivitis can develop very easily, but it’s also easy to prevent with daily oral hygiene and regular checkups with your dentist. The best way to prevent gum disease is brushing and flossing twice a day or more. Don’t brush too hard; this can cause damage to your gums and actually make it easier for bacteria to infiltrate.
We recommend visiting your dentist at least twice a year for a general checkup and cleaning. During your cleaning, we will remove the build-up of plaque on your teeth before it becomes serious enough to cause gingivitis.
You can also address some risk factors that increase the chances of developing gum disease. Risk factors include: chewing or smoking tobacco, genetics, crooked teeth that are harder to clean, pregnancy, poor oral hygiene, and certain medications.
Warning Signs of Gum Disease
As gum disease is typically painless, it’s important to be vigilant to look for signs of periodontal disease. Prompt professional treatment is essential to potentially reverse gum disease or minimize damage. Watch for warning signs of gum disease that include:
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together as you bite
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Gums that are pulling away from your teeth
- Tender, swollen, or red gums
- Gums that bleed easily, especially when brushing or flossing
If you suspect you have gum disease or you’re interested in a proactive approach to protecting your smile and health, schedule an appointment today with the Cardinal Dental Group for a checkup with a caring dentist.