How does periodontitis affect your health?
Periodontitis will begin slowly with the appearance of the typically painless gingivitis and if left untreated will develop into a more serious advanced form of gum disease.
Plaque collects on your teeth and along the gum line, then hardens into a substance known as tartar. Pockets form between the teeth and irritated gums, and bacteria collect here, which can lead to other health problems such as cardiovascular disease. Once hardened, only your dentist will have the tools to remove plaque.
Once periodontitis develops you are at an increased risk of experiencing bone and tooth loss. In fact, 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 crucial for the prevention of serous diseases such as periodontitis.
What are some ways to 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 a look at your current medications. Certain medications can contribute to and aggravate gum disease, including antidepressants, heart medicines and oral contraceptives.
Consume more vitamins A and C, which are part of a healthy diet that can help prevent periodontitis. Conversely, cut sugary and starchy foods, which allow plaque to build.
Visit the dentist at the first sign of dental concerns. Correct dental problems or oral health issues such as teeth grinding, 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.
Massage your gum during your oral hygiene routine. 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 a toothpaste that contains fluoride. This key ingredient removes the buildup of plaque bacteria along the gum line without irritating gums.
Quit smoking for good. 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.
Be aware of your risk factors. 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.
Regular oral hygiene - and reducing your personal risk factors - will go a long way in the 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.