Maintaining a healthy smile begins with practicing good oral hygiene on a daily basis. Yet, it involves more than just your teeth. Your gums need to remain healthy as well and may require additional attention at times. The reason for this is that the gum tissues are what support your teeth. If gum disease develops, there is the potential it could lead to tooth loss and, in turn, ruin your smile.
What Exactly is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, affects those tissues present in your mouth that support teeth, causing gums to recede or pull away from the base of a tooth. It also has an effect on the bone structure that supports your natural teeth.
The early stage of gum disease is referred to as gingivitis and is often undetected. Symptoms are few but can include swelling, redness, and bleeding of the gums. If caught early, gingivitis is treatable and can be reversed.
The more advanced stage of gum disease is called periodontitis. Plaque spreads to beneath the gum line, and the longer it stays there, it increases the production of bacteria, and this can irritate the gums. Soon, an inflammatory response occurs, and pockets develop between the teeth and gums. If left untreated, these pockets continue to deepen, and infection can set in. The underlying bone and tissue break down even further.
How Does Gum Disease Develop?
Gum disease develops when bacteria are left to build up in the mouth. This build-up may be the result of teeth misalignment, poor dental hygiene, or certain health conditions such as diabetes. Smoking and certain medications can also contribute to the development of gum disease.
What Treatments are Available for Gum Disease?
If you do have gum disease, seek the help of a dentist as soon as possible to prevent tooth loss and other oral health issues. Treatment will depend on what level of gum disease you have and may include any of the following.
- Deep cleaning, such as with a dental procedure called scaling and root planing. This procedure involves a deep cleaning along the gum line and the tooth root. You may also need to take antibiotics or antimicrobial prescription medications to prevent infection.
- The use of specialty products, including toothpastes, mouthwashes, and medicated mouth rinses.
- Flap surgery, where your dentist lifts the gum tissues and cleans underneath before suturing them back in place.
- Gum or bone grafting, for extreme cases only. This type of surgery involves grafting tissue or bone from other parts of the mouth onto the damaged areas of your gums or jaw.
You may also need to undergo restoration measures if you lose teeth, such as with crowns or dental implants. Fortunately, today, these options can blend in with your natural tooth color, shape, and size and put your smile back in place.
Whatever your needs may be, speak with your dentist about what treatments are available, and find out how to continue protecting your smile long into the future.
How to Prevent Gum Disease and Save Your Smile
The first step in preventing gum disease and saving your smile is to be aware that it can occur. With this, you can then focus on practicing good oral hygiene and staying alert to signs that indicate gum disease may be developing. These signs include tender or reddening gums, bleeding after brushing or flossing, persistent halitosis (bad breath), receding gums, and loose teeth.
Here are some beneficial actions you can do to help make sure gum disease doesn’t ruin your smile.
- Practice good oral hygiene daily using a soft-bristled toothbrush and floss.
- Use a good mouthwash containing antimicrobial ingredients like chlorhexidine and ones that specialize in preventing and treating gum disease. Avoid ones with alcohol which can cause dry mouth.
- Recognize the signs before they escalate and seek treatment.
- Schedule regular dental cleanings and exams, where your dentist will look for signs of decay and developing gum disease.
- Eat healthy, avoiding or limiting starchy and sugary foods and beverages, which can create more opportunities for bacteria growth in the mouth.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can affect how the soft tissues and bone attach in your mouth and also interfere with cell functioning inside the gum tissue.
- Wear a nightguard if you know you grind or clench your teeth as you sleep. Be sure to thoroughly clean and sanitize the mouthpiece before and after each use.
- Monitor medications and health conditions that can cause gum disease and seek medical attention when needed.
Don’t Let Gum Disease Ruin Your Smile! Contact Bateson Dentistry Today
When it comes to your smile, there is a lot you can do to keep it looking its best. The team at Bateson Dentistry can also help, providing you with regularly scheduled cleanings and exams and effective treatments should you develop gum disease. Contact our office today to get started.