- June 11, 2018
In a perfect world, everyone’s gums would be firm and pink, and they would never bleed when you brush or floss your teeth.
That’s what healthy gums look like.
In the real world, nearly half of all adults 30 years and older have some form of advanced gum disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Millions more have mild gum disease, although they may not realize it — which means they aren’t doing anything about it.
We don’t want any of our patients in or around Shorewood, IL to ever suffer from periodontal disease. This is why we are taking time today to discuss things you can do to prevent gum disease and to treat it if you already have it.
One of those things should be making at least a couple appointments at Shorewood Family Dental Care every year. If you haven’t planned your next cleaning and exam, then it’s time to give us a call at 815-768-1615.
The Problem Doesn’t End With Your Gums
One of the best things you can do for your oral and overall health is taking steps to prevent gum disease from developing.
First and foremost, gum disease causes more tooth loss than any other factor — more than tooth decay, more than injuries. Having gum disease increases your risk of needing a root canal, too.
Second, gum disease has been linked to a variety of systemic problems.
People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing gum disease. Likewise, having a periodontal problem makes it more difficult to control blood sugar levels.
On an even more serious note, the bacteria that cause gum disease has also been found in the hearts of people who suffer from heart disease and heart attacks. By having fewer of those bacteria, you may be saving more than just your smile.
Stop It Before It Starts
The best approach for any oral health issue is preventive care.
This starts at home. It’s also why our dental professionals recommend that you follow the American Dental Association’s guidelines:
- Brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride
- Clean between your teeth daily with dental floss or another interdental cleaner
When brushing, it’s important to scrub your teeth on all sides. Finish by scrubbing your tongue. Spit the toothpaste into the sink, then rinse your toothbrush clean.
Remember not to brush too hard. This can harm the enamel of your teeth and your gums. It’s also important to replace your toothbrush every three or four months.
And never use another person’s toothbrush.
When flossing, use whatever dental floss works best for you. It can be thick or thin, flavored or unflavored. The important thing is that you use it to clean the areas between your teeth and below your gumline that your toothbrush can’t reach.
If using dental floss is a problem for you for any reason, you may want to try a water flosser instead. These devices spray a stream of water to remove bacteria, plaque, and food particles. You can find them in a variety of price ranges and styles.
You also need to have regular professional cleanings. This gives us the opportunity to remove any plaque that you may have missed and any tartar (hardened plaque) that may have formed on your teeth. Tartar should only be removed by a dental professional, and doing so will reduce your risk of tooth decay and periodontal infections.
We also will be looking for any signs of gum disease. Like we said above, we would love it if every patient remained free of gum disease. The next best option is to catch it as early as possible so it can be treated more easily.
Signs That Something Is Wrong
In the opening, we explained that healthy gums should be firm to the touch and pink.
People who have gingivitis, the mild form of gum disease, have gums that:
- Are red
- Look swollen
- Bleed when they brush or floss
You may have one, two, or all three of these symptoms. One thing we want to stress, however, is that bleeding gums are always a sign that something is wrong.
Many times, these are clues that you haven’t been brushing and flossing as often as you should or that you aren’t doing those things correctly.
The good news is that gingivitis can be reversed in many cases by improving your daily oral hygiene routine. If your gums don’t get better as you improve your routine, there’s a good chance that you may already have periodontitis, which is the advanced form of gum disease.
Other symptoms of periodontitis include:
- Receding gums
- Pus leaking from below your gumline
- Constant bad breath
- Changes in your bite (how your teeth fit together)
- Loose teeth
- Painful or tender gums
If you are having even one of these symptoms, you should contact Shorewood Family Dental Care as soon as possible. This kind of infection requires professional treatment.
Many people never feel any pain as a result of gum disease. As a result, many people will allow a periodontal infection to persist for far too long before they get help.
Getting Rid of the Problem
While gum disease is a bad thing, our gum disease treatment is kind of cool. We use dental lasers, which are precise and effective and allow us to treat many advanced cases without surgery.
By using a dental laser, we can evaporate infected gum tissue and seal healthy tissue at the same time. This means a lot less bleeding than you would have with oral surgery. It also means you probably won’t need stitches.
Patients who undergo laser treatments also recover more quickly than patients who have surgical procedures on their gums.
The laser treatment is often combined with scaling and root planing. This is a deep cleaning procedure to remove plaque and tartar from the roots of your teeth.
Last, but not least, we may recommend an antibiotic to kill any harmful bacteria that are left behind and to reduce your risk of a recurring problem.
Of course, once your gums are free from infection, you will want to make regular appointments to keep them in good shape.