February is National Gum Disease Awareness Month, an important opportunity to learn more about the condition and refresh your personal dental hygiene habits. After all, according to the CDC, nearly half of all adults aged 30 or older show signs of gum disease. At Berdy Dental, we are dedicated to helping our patients maintain healthy teeth and gums. Read on to discover why you should focus on your gum health as well as the steps you can take today to prevent and treat gum disease.
IMPORTANCE OF FOCUSING ON GUM HEALTH
Gums are the support for your teeth and act as the foundation for a healthy mouth. While most people tend to think of their teeth as the most important aspect of dental hygiene, your gums are an integral part of dental and oral health - and can also play a significant role in the overall health of your body.
No matter what condition your teeth are in, they require healthy gums to support them and hold them in place. Your gums serve as a seal around your teeth, protecting more sensitive tissues underneath. When harmful bacteria sit on your gums for too long, small pockets begin to form over time, creating even more space for bacteria and plaque to build. This continual erosion of gum tissues exposes teeth, increasing the likelihood of cavities and even loose teeth.
Not only is gum health important for a healthy mouth, it also has connections to your overall health throughout your body. In fact, gum disease has been linked to cardiovascular problems like heart disease and stroke. Several studies actually point to gum health as a predictor of heart health.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF GUM DISEASE
If your gums are irritated, swollen, or increasingly red in color, you may have some form of gum disease. People with gum disease may also suffer from bad breath. You’ve probably heard of the mildest form of gum disease: gingivitis. It’s often caused by poor oral hygiene – not enough brushing and flossing.
Another telltale sign of gum disease is bleeding gums. Healthy tissue should not bleed (unless you’re abusing it) – so regular flossing should not cause your gums to bleed. Imagine if you were washing your hands and your fingernails bled- that would be alarming, so is blood from your gums!
GUM DISEASE PREVENTION
Brush for 2-3 minutes at least twice a day with an ADA-approved fluoridated toothpaste (be sure to focus along the gumline)
You should also floss every day to keep the gum tissue clean and healthy. Our dentists recommend using a Waterpik before and after flossing and brushing. Cleaning the tongue and Waterpiking can reduce the plaque buildup and bacteria in your mouth.
Incorporating mouth rinses into your dental hygiene routine is another great way to reduce the chance of gum disease. This can reduce plaque buildup by 20 percent and also kills bacteria.
Be sure to eat a healthy diet to fight off disease as well. Your diet should avoid starchy and sugary foods when possible, as these increase plaque.
Most importantly, we encourage our patients to focus on preventive care by scheduling regular dental checkups. This is the best way to detect the earliest signs of periodontal disease.
GUM DISEASE TREATMENT
Gum disease seem like a simple dental issue, but it quickly becomes serious and can have intense effects on your quality of life if left untreated. The #1 malpractice against dentists is undiagnosed periodontal disease.
It’s very important to catch and treat gingivitis early, because if left unchecked, it can develop into periodontitis, which typically involves gum recession and can eventually lead to bone loss and tooth loss. The earlier you catch gum disease, the more manageable it is. But once your gums weaken and your teeth begin to loosen, the problem becomes much more intensive to contain as time goes on.
Berdy Dental Group offers periodontic treatments to keep gum disease under control in high-risk patients. While gum disease is not curable, our dentists work diligently to help treat the condition. This usually involves visiting our office on a regular basis – typically once every three months – for a professional cleaning that involves removing plaque and bacteria from both above and below the gum line.
LANAP® (laser gum therapy) is something unique that we offer at Berdy Dental Group to effectively treat gum disease for patients with more advanced gum disease. LANAP® therapy uses a soft tissue laser to eliminate diseased tissue and bacteria in your mouth. We then remove plaque and calculus from the roots of your teeth, use the laser to sterilize, clean and stimulate repair of the periodontal pocket. The procedure is easy to perform, is less painful, requires no stitches, and has equal or better long-term results than traditional gum disease surgery.
At Berdy Dental Group, we encourage all of our patients to visit us frequently for maintenance. During these appointments, we provide a thorough dental exam to catch any problems. The purpose of these frequent appointments is to monitor and maintain the patient’s oral health.