Periodontal disease, sometimes referred to as gum disease, occurs when plaque builds up between the gum line and teeth. Plaque is the sticky and colorless film that forms in the mouth. The built-up bacteria can cause inflammation of the gums surrounding the tooth.
Deterioration of the gums and the supporting bone structure follows if the inflammation is left untreated. This can cause gum recession -when your teeth look longer than usual because the gum is shrinking- and in other cases tooth loss. Additionally, periodontal disease has been associated with other diseases such as heart diseases and diabetes.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Sometimes, periodontal disease can progress unnoticeable but some of the symptoms that give it away include; swelling or redness of the gums, bleeding gums especially after brushing your teeth, gum sensitivity, pus at the gum line, bad breath as well as a persistent bad taste in your mouth. If you experience any of these symptoms, always treat is as an emergency and see your dentist as soon as you can. Your dentist may also check the depth of the pocket between the gums and teeth. Other than gum recession, deep pockets are also a classic symptom of developing periodontal disease.
The good news is, periodontal disease is preventable by simply adding the following habits to your daily routine.
Maintain Proper Dental Hygiene
Good oral hygiene should be done on a daily basis, no matter how healthy your teeth and gums look. This is important to prevent any infections. Proper dental care involves brushing your teeth at least twice a day as well as flossing at least once. Brushing your teeth helps to remove food debris and plaque trapped between the teeth and the gums. While brushing, do not forget to include your tongue.
Flossing removes food debris and plaque along the gum line and between teeth. When the space between the teeth is smaller, you can use soft-picks for better results. It is also recommended for patients with dexterity problems such as arthritis to use an electric toothbrush for a thorough cleaning.
Mouthwashes are easily available over the counter. They help reduce plaque and other particles missed by brushing and flossing and also reduce the speed that tartar develops. However, mouthwash should never be used as a substitute for brushing and flossing.
Maintain Dental Visits
Your dentist can detect gum disease symptoms early if you visit them regularly. On these check-ups, your dentist will look at your teeth, gums, plaque level, bone structure, bite and other risk factors for dental diseases including periodontal disease. This way, the symptoms would be taken care of quickly before they change into something serious. Also, a professional cleaning is the only way to get rid of tartar.
The risk of periodontal disease is yet another reason why smokers should quit smoking. Smoking has strongly been linked to the onset of gum disease. Smoking is known to weaken the immune system; therefore, it makes it harder for the body to fight off gum disease. Additionally, continued smoking after the gums have been damaged makes it even hard for the gums to heal.
Knowing Your Risks
There are several risk factors that increase your chances of contracting periodontal disease. They include genetics, age, diet, and smoking as discussed above. Ensure you talk to your dental professional to determine whether you are at an increased risk and discuss the measures to prevent it.