Periodontal disease is a serious dental condition that can negatively impact both your oral and physical health. In this post, our dentists in Vancouver explain what periodontitis is and share tips on how you can prevent it.
What is Periodontitis (Gum Disease)?
Periodontitis is also known as gum disease. This is a progressive condition that gradually invades your gums over time because, it's generally painless in its beginning stages (gingivitis), it can easily advance before you know you have a problem.
Plaque builds up on your teeth and along the gum line, then hardens into a rough, porous deposit called tartar or calculus. Pockets develop between the teeth and irritated gums, collecting bacteria that can cause other health problems such as cardiovascular disease. Once hardened, your dentist will be the only one that can remove the plaque.
In its advanced stages, periodontitis can cause loss of bone structure and deterioration of gums, eventually leading to tooth loss. Gum disease is actually one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults.
This is why removing plaque with a rigorous daily hygiene routine (brushing and flossing) and going to regular dental hygiene appointments is so important for prevention – and for maintaining your oral health.
How You Can Prevent Periodontitis
We have also listed a few less obvious tips that can help you prevent gum disease or reduce your risk of getting it. These tips include:
Take inventory of your medications. Certain medications can contribute to and aggravate gum disease, including antidepressants, heart medicines, and oral contraceptives.
Increase your vitamins A and C intake, they are part of a healthy diet that can help prevent periodontitis. Otherwise, cut sugary and starchy foods out of your diet which allows plaque to build.
Treat dental issues quickly. Have dental problems or oral health issues such as teeth grinding, misaligned and crowded teeth fixed. It can be more complicated to clean teeth that aren’t properly spaced, thus providing room for plaque to grow and thrive.
Gently massage your gums. Along with routine brushing and flossing (at least twice a day for two minutes each time for brushing, and once daily for thorough flossing), gently massage your gums, this increases blood flow to the tissue.
Use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is a key ingredient that helps remove plaque bacteria from along the gum line without irritating gums.
Quit smoking. Smoking isn't just strongly associated with the onset of gum disease, it makes it more difficult for your gums to heal once they have been 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 finds 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 when you start losing your 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.
Regular oral hygiene - and reducing your personal risk factors - will go a long way in your fight 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.