The goal of dentistry is to help patients achieve a healthy mouth, not just healthy teeth. This includes your gums (aka gingiva). Your gums seal and protect your teeth, teeth roots, and jaw bones, against disease-causing bacteria. Additionally, the gingiva hold your teeth in place. Without gum tissue, your teeth would fall out and bacteria along with food debris would cause serious destruction to your sensitive teeth roots.
To recognize National Gum Care Month, we’re discussing one of the most prevalent oral health issues in America: gum disease (aka periodontal disease). Continue reading to learn how gum disease develops, it’s negative effects, some staggering gum disease statistics, and how to prevent ever having periodontal disease.
How Gum Disease Develops
Did you know that it only takes 48 hours for plaque to turn into tartar? Within days, the tartar can become nearly impossible to remove. This is the first step in the development of gum disease and the reason why it is so important to brush and floss daily.
In the beginning, patients will likely notice that their gums are bleeding after brushing or flossing, chronic bad breath, and possibly inflamed gums. This is the first stage of gum disease, called gingivitis.
As the tartar sits along the gum line, it creates pockets of bacteria between the teeth and gums. These bacteria irritate the gum tissue, and the gums begin to pull away from the teeth. You may or may not notice gum recession. This is the second stage of gum disease, called periodontitis.
If left untreated, the bacteria will continue to eat away at the gingiva and jawbone, causing the teeth to become loose and possibly fall out– this is the third stage, called advanced periodontitis. The bacteria can also get into your bloodstream and cause chronic inflammation throughout the body.
Consequences & Staggering Gum Disease Statistics
Periodontal disease has serious consequences. It’s uncomfortable, causes your gums to bleed and swell, causes gum recession and dental sensitivity, and can even cause your teeth to become loose and fall out. Additionally, gum disease has been linked to overall health issues like diabetes, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease.
For these reasons, prevention is paramount. And these concerning statistics from the CDC must be addressed:
- More than 47% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease.
- About 30% of adults have moderate gum disease and 8.5% have severe gum disease.
- 70% of adults over 65 have some form of periodontal disease.
- Periodontal disease affects more than 56% of men and 38% of women.
- Almost 65% of smokers have gum disease.
Gum Care Tips and Prevention
Thankfully, gum disease is completely preventable when you practice proper oral hygiene. Here are five gum care tips to help you avoid the consequences of periodontal disease:
1. Brush twice a day
Brushing in the morning and evening is Oral Hygiene 101, and most of us abide by that rule. Here’s a pro tip: Use an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes often have a timer and let you know if you are using too much pressure while brushing. The spinning brush helps remove plaque more efficiently.
2. Floss daily
No matter what kind of toothbrush you use, it can’t clean between your teeth. It is imperative to floss every day to prevent plaque from turning into tartar. Use traditional floss, floss picks, or a Waterpik– whatever is easiest and will keep you consistent!
3. Use fluoride toothpaste
When it comes to gum care, many toothpaste brands claim to prevent gum disease, but only those with fluoride are truly effective. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps kill the bacteria that contribute to periodontal disease.
4. Quit smoking
It’s not a coincidence that 65% of smokers have gum disease. Smoking contributes to more dental plaque, and it weakens the immune system and cuts off oxygen to the gums, making it harder for them to heal.
5. Visit the dentist regularly
People of all ages should visit the dentist every six months. People with gum disease may need to visit more often. Dentists check for early signs of periodontal disease during these appointments to prevent further damage. Gingivitis can be reversed, but later stages can only be treated. Your dentist will recommend treatments to restore your smile to health if you have gum disease.
Schedule Your Dental Cleaning Today
Whether you have symptoms of gum disease or not, today is a great day to schedule a dental cleaning appointment. In honor of National Gum Care Month, our team is prepared to help you gain and maintain optimal oral health with gum disease prevention. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!