As your dentist, it probably comes to no surprise to you that I’m a bit obsessed with teeth. Your teeth aren’t the only thing that deserves love, though. Your gums need some TLC, too (which is why I’m so emphatic that you floss EVERY DAY)! Why? Because gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. What are the symptoms and are you on your way to a gummy smile?
It All Starts With Plaque
Not only does plaque lead to tooth decay, it is also instrumental in causing periodontitis, or gum disease. When you do not remove plaque from your teeth, it hardens into tartar. This tartar causes your gums to become irritated and inflamed, leading to gum disease. The symptoms include:
- Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
- Gums that pull away from the teeth at the gumline
- Loose teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Persistent bad breath
It’s so important to stick with your semi-annual appointments because, if we catch periodontitis in the early stages (known as gingivitis), we can actually reverse it. Once you are in the advanced stages of gum disease, your teeth are at risk.
It’s Actually Dangerous
Gum disease in and of itself is bad enough, especially if you end up losing any teeth. The other major concern is that periodontitis puts you at risk for other health conditions, including:
- Hypertension and stroke
- Heart disease
This is just further evidence that dental health is closely linked with overall health, which is even more reason to care for your teeth and gums.
Prevention to the Rescue
The good news is that gum disease is highly preventable. If you stick with the advice I give you, you’ll be able to keep those teeth where they belong — securely rooted in your mouth. Here is how to prevent gum disease:
- Brush at least twice a day, but preferably after every meal. This removes the bacteria and food particles that cause decay and disease.
- Floss every single day. There’s no escaping this step; flossing is the ONLY way to adequately clean between your teeth. If your gums bleed when you floss, call my office to schedule an appointment, but stick with it.
- Come in for a cleaning and exam every six months. If you notice any symptoms between visits, come in early. It’s better to be safe than sorry you lost your teeth.
Honestly, it’s that easy. If you have any symptoms, don’t wait until your next appointment to come in. I’d rather see you sooner and be able to stave off infection than see you when it’s too late. Whatever condition your teeth are in when I see you next, I look forward to your visit.