Did you know that more than 47% of Americans aged 30 and older have periodontal (gum) disease? And these numbers only get higher with each passing year, skyrocketing to 70% by age 65. Unfortunately, this serious problem can affect more than just your mouth. In fact, it can even put your overall health at risk.
Periodontal disease is a condition in which there are high levels of bacteria in your mouth, and these bacteria infect your gum tissue. This causes inflammation to set in, damaging the delicate gum tissue that surrounds your teeth. If ignored, this condition can destroy the bone that holds your teeth in place, which can put you at risk for tooth loss.
And that’s only the beginning.
Periodontal disease can also affect other parts of your body, because the bacteria in your mouth can enter your bloodstream. This can increase your risk of developing other conditions, from coronary artery disease and rheumatoid arthritis to blood sugar issues and pregnancy complications.
There are ways to get your oral health back on track. Board-certified periodontists, Caesar Sweidan, DDS, and Laura Smith, DDS, provide specialty periodontal care at Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants in Gulfport, Mississippi. They can help whether you have the early stages of gum disease or severe issues that require advanced intervention.
However, you may not have to let it get to the point where you need treatment. This condition is preventable. In this blog post, Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith explain some things you can do to help prevent the development of periodontal disease.
First, you need to make sure to brush your teeth well to keep your mouth as clean as possible. Brushing can help remove plaque — which is the sticky film made primarily of bacteria — from your teeth, gums and tongue.
Do know that you can’t avoid all plaque. It forms when the starches and sugars in the things you eat come in contact with the bacteria that naturally exist in your mouth. However, brushing twice each day, ideally after every meal, can limit the buildup on your teeth so it doesn’t harden into tartar, which requires professional removal.
Flossing each day can help you remove plaque from hard-to-reach places where toothbrush bristles can’t go. That includes the nooks and crannies between your teeth and sensitive areas just below your gum line.
Skipping this step may not seem like a big deal, but the longer you leave this bacteria in place, the more damage it can do to your oral health and body.
3. Know your risks
If you already brush and floss, congratulations! You’re well on your way to protecting yourself from gum disease. However, you should also assess your personal risk factors for this common problem.
Things that increase your chances of developing periodontal disease include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Having poor oral hygiene habits
- Using tobacco products, vaping or smoking marijuana
- Experiencing hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy or menopause
- Having poor nutrition, such as being low on vitamin C
- Taking medications that cause changes with your mouth, such as dryness
- Having a compromised immune system
- Living with certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, or diabetes
Your genetics can also increase your risk of developing gum disease.
4. See a dental professional
Another great way to help keep gum disease at bay is to get regular cleanings and annual assessments by a dental professional. It’s also crucial to seek treatment if you notice signs of periodontal disease, such as:
- Red, tender or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Sensitivity or pain
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath or a foul taste that doesn’t improve with brushing
- Gums that seem to pull away from your teeth
- Changes in your bite
Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith can evaluate your risk factors for gum disease and perform a comprehensive exam to look for signs of a problem. Then, they can outline a treatment strategy to help restore your oral health and maintain it moving forward.
If you have gum disease and want treatment, or if you want to find out if you have gum disease, Dr. Sweidan and Dr. Smith can help. To learn more, call 228-868-9615 or request an appointment online with Gulf Coast Periodontics & Implants today.