Be Good to Your Gums
Take a look in the mirror. Are your gums pink, firm, and taut around your teeth? If the answer is yes, that’s a good thing and an indication you probably have healthy gums. But if they are swollen, tender, or are beginning to recede or shrink back, you need to make a dental appointment right away.
Of course, even if your gums look healthy, that’s not proof they actually are. Gum disease often takes a little while to exhibit symptoms. That’s why it’s important to visit the dentist two times per year for a thorough examination and checkup.
If you live the Clearwater, FL area, give Clearwater Dental Associates a call at (727) 373-6628. We are a comprehensive dental services provider, and we will work with you to keep your gums and teeth healthy for life.
What Is Gum Disease, and Why Should I Care?
What do you think is the most common reason for tooth loss in American adults? The seemingly obvious answer is tooth decay — and yet it’s wrong! Yes, gum disease, also called periodontal disease, causes more people to lose teeth than cavities. And gum disease is alarmingly common: the Centers for Disease Control reports that nearly half of adults over 30 have some form of gum disease, and that 70% of adults over 65 are afflicted.
Gum disease occurs when bacteria-filled plaque and tartar build up around and even underneath the gumline. The bacteria cause inflammation and infection, which, if left untreated, can potentially spread to other parts of the body.
The good news is that if detected early, periodontal disease is easy to treat. Early-stage gum disease is called gingivitis. It can generally be reversed by meticulous and consistent brushing and flossing at home and regular dental cleanings.
If not stopped, gingivitis will progress into periodontitis, or late-stage gum disease. At this point, tooth loss and other complications become a real risk. This is why it’s so important to visit the dentist regularly and make a special appointment if you notice any gum disease symptoms.
What Are Gum Disease Symptoms?
If you begin to notice any of the following symptoms, it’s imperative to make an appointment at Clearwater Dental Associates, even if you are not due for your regular checkup. Remember, the sooner gum disease is diagnosed, the easier the treatment.
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Gums that bleed, while brushing or otherwise
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
- Gums that seem to have receded, or pulled away from the teeth
- Teeth that appear longer than before
- Loose teeth
- Pockets or gaps between the teeth and gums
- A change in your bite, or the way your teeth fit together
- Painful or sensitive teeth
You could have gum disease and none of these symptoms at all! So don’t stay away from the dentist for more than six months at a time.
Can I Prevent Gum Disease?
Many factors can contribute to gum disease, some within your control and some not. You can’t change a hereditary disposition, hormonal fluctuations, a chronic disease, or certain characteristics of your mouth that may make you more susceptible. However, there are some things you can do to decrease your risk:
- If you smoke, do whatever you can to stop. Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors for periodontal disease. This applies to chewing tobacco too. Smoking weakens your immune system, so your body has difficulty fighting off gum (or any) infection. And treatments don’t work as well for smokers.
- Practice good oral hygiene at home. Brush twice every day for two minutes. When you brush, be sure to do a thorough job around the gumline. And floss daily, using proper technique. Mouthwash can also help banish bacteria and reach places your toothbrush can’t.
- Visit Clearwater Dental Associates twice per year. We will be able to spot gum disease before you notice symptoms, and clean tartar and plaque that’s building up around and underneath the gumline.
How Will Clearwater Dental Associates Treat My Gum Disease?
For early-stage gingivitis, we will give you a thorough professional cleaning and counsel you on how to properly take care of your teeth at home. This should be all that’s required to clear up early disease.
If your gum disease has progressed to a later stage, we may suggest scaling and root planing, which is a deep-cleaning procedure performed under local anesthesia.
If you live in the Clearwater, FL region and have been experiencing symptoms of gum disease — or if you haven’t, but would like to schedule an examination — pick up the phone and call (727) 373-6628. You may also get in touch via our web form.