What Is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis - more commonly referred to as gum disease - is a progressive oral health condition that gradually invades your gums. Because it is typically painless in its early stages (gingivitis), it can easily evolve to an advanced stage before you become aware of any problems.
Plaque collects on your teeth and along the gum line, then hardens into a rough, porous deposit referred to as tartar or calculus. Pockets begin to form between the teeth and irritated gums, and bacteria collect here, which can often lead to other health problems including cardiovascular disease. Once hardened, only your dentist will have the tools to remove plaque.
In its advanced stages, periodontitis can cause loss of bone structure and deterioration of gums - eventually even tooth loss. Gum disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults.
That’s why removing plaque with a rigorous daily hygiene routine of brushing and flossing as well as attending regular dental hygiene appointments are key for prevention – and for maintaining your oral health.
How Can I Prevent Periodontitis?
While maintaining a great oral hygiene routine is the primary way to prevent periodontitis, there are also some less obvious strategies that may help you avoid the condition or reduce your risk of getting it. To help protect the health of your gums, try following these tips from our Carbonear dentists:
Take inventory of your medications. Certain medications such as antidepressants, heart medicines and oral contraceptives can contribute to or aggravate gum disease. Take note of whether your medications put you at increased risk of gum disease.
Increase your consumption of vitamins A and C. These essential vitamins are part of a healthy diet that can help prevent periodontitis. Conversely, cut sugary and starchy foods, which allow plaque to build.
Have dental issues treated quickly. Correct dental problems or oral health issues such as teeth grinding, and misaligned or crowded teeth. It can be more challenging to properly clean teeth that aren’t properly spaced, thus providing room for plaque to grow and thrive.
Gently massage your gums. Along with brushing and flossing regularly (at least twice a day for two minutes each time for brushing, and once daily for thorough flossing), show your gums some love by gently massaging them, which increases blood flow to the tissue.
Use fluoride toothpaste. This key ingredient removes the buildup of plaque bacteria along the gum line without irritating gums.
Quit smoking. Smoking is not only strongly associated with the onset of gum disease, but it also makes it more difficult for your gums to heal once they’re damaged, as smoking weakens the immune system.
Know your risks. Whether genetics, diet, age, smoking or other factors make you more susceptible to periodontitis, knowledge is power when it comes to reducing your risk and staying healthy.
Bonus: Ask your dentist about periodontal disease treatment. The earlier your dentist can detect periodontitis (if you do get it), the better. That's because it's easier to treat gum disease in its earlier stages than when it has advanced to the point that you start to lose teeth or jaw bone tissue. Depending on how far the disease has progressed and its severity, there are surgical and non-surgical options for treatment.
Maintain a thorough oral hygiene routine and reduce your personal risk factors to prevent gum disease. Our gums are as important as our teeth when it comes to our oral health, so it’s important not to neglect them. Be sure to provide your teeth and gums with the daily care and attention they deserve.