Periodontal disease, or gum disease, can negatively affect your oral health and overall physical health. Today, our Calgary dentists explain periodontitis and offer tips on how you can prevent it.
What is periodontitis?
Periodontitis, also known as gum disease, is a progressive condition that gradually affects your gums. In its early stage - gingivitis - it is typically hard to spot so you may not be aware there's a problem until it moves into a more advanced stage.
Periodontitis is caused by plaque that collects on your teeth and along the gum line and then hardens into a rough, porous deposit referred to as tartar or calculus. Eventually, this tartar will form pockets between the teeth and gums. These pockets fill with bacteria and cause your gums to recede.
In its advanced stages, periodontitis can cause loss of bone structure and deterioration of gums - eventually even tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults.
Gum disease can affect your overall health by allowing the bacteria trapped around your gums to enter your bloodstream. It has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular (heart) disease, amongst other conditions.
That’s why removing plaque with a rigorous daily hygiene routine of brushing and flossing as well as attending regular dental hygiene appointments are key for prevention – and for maintaining your oral health.
How can I prevent periodontitis?
Besides diligent oral hygiene and routine dental visits, there are a few other things that may help you avoid gum disease or reduce your risk of getting it:
Take inventory of your medications - Certain medications can contribute to and aggravate gum disease, including antidepressants, heart medicines, and oral contraceptives. If you know your medications increase your risk of gum disease you can take proactive steps such as scheduling extra hygiene appointments with your dental office.
Increase your consumption of vitamins A and C - These vitamins are part of a healthy diet that can help prevent periodontitis. You may also want to cut back on sugary foods, which allow plaque to build.
Have dental issues treated quickly - 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.
Gently massage your gums - Along with brushing and flossing regularly, you can increase blood flow to your gum tissue by gently massaging them.
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. 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.