Periodontal disease is a common condition that can negatively impact not only your oral health but also your overall health. Here, our Halifax dentists explain what periodontitis is and share tips on how to prevent it.
What is periodontitis?
Periodontitis, also known as gum disease, is a chronic oral health condition that slowly encroaches on your gums. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontitis. At this early stage, the condition is typically painless and causes few noticeable symptoms, which is why many people are unaware that they have gum disease until the condition reaches more advanced stages.
When plaque builds up on your teeth and along the gum line, it hardens into calculus, a rough, porous deposit. Bacteria gather in the pockets that form between the teeth and irritated gums, which can cause other health issues like cardiovascular disease. Only your dentist will have the equipment to remove plaque after it has hardened.
Once periodontitis reaches more advanced stages it can result in tooth loss as well as loss of jaw bone density and gum tissue. In fact, one of the most prevalent reasons for tooth loss in adults is gum disease.
That’s why removing plaque with a rigorous daily hygiene routine of brushing and flossing as well as attending regular dental hygiene appointments are essential in the fight against periodontitis – and for maintaining your oral health.
How can I prevent periodontitis?
There are also some less obvious tips that may help you avoid gum disease or reduce your risk of getting it. You may want to:
Take inventory of your medications. There are a number of medications that can contribute to and aggravate gum disease, including antidepressants, heart medicines and oral contraceptives.
Increase your consumption of vitamins A and C. These essential vitamins are part of a healthy diet that can help prevent periodontitis from taking hold. It is also important to cut back on sugary and starchy foods, which allow plaque to build.
Don't delay in having dental issues treated. Correct oral health issues such as teeth grinding, or misaligned and crowded teeth right away. It can be more difficult 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, it 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. If you do develop periodontitis, it is best if your dentist can find it as soon as possible. This is because gum disease can be treated more effectively in its early stages than when it has already begun to affect your teeth or jaw bone tissue. There are surgical and non-surgical treatment options available, depending on the disease's severity and how far it has advanced.
Regular oral hygiene and reducing your personal risk factors will go a long way in the fight to prevent gum disease from negatively impacting your health. Our gums are as important as our teeth when it comes to our oral health, so it’s important not to neglect them.