Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an inflammation of the soft tissues and structures that support the teeth.
Gingivitis, the mildest form, causes the gums to redden, swell and bleed. Left untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis, in which the gums pull away from the teeth, bone tissue breaks down and the teeth become loose and eventually fall out.
According to research published by the CDC, over 47 percent of adults 30 or older have periodontal disease. And more than 70 percent of adults over the age of 65 are affected.
How can you reduce your risk?
Help Prevent Gum Disease with Daily Oral Health Care
Practicing good daily oral hygiene is one of the best ways to help prevent periodontal disease.
Proper brushing is key. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that you brush twice per day for two minutes at a time, using a soft-bristled brush and a fluoride toothpaste.
Recent research has disputed the benefits of flossing. But since a toothbrush simply cannot access all the tiny spaces between your teeth to remove food particles and plaque, flossing is still advised by the ADA and the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP).
What about mouthwash? Cosmetic mouthwashes can control bad breath, but they don’t kill bacteria or reduce plaque. A therapeutic fluoride mouth rinse, on the other hand, can help prevent or reduce periodontal disease. Check with your dentist or oral surgeon to see if you should use one.
Lifestyle Changes that Can Help You Avoid Gum Disease
Some foods contain compounds that can enhance the functioning of your immune system to help fight off infection. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help boost your oral health. Limiting your intake of sugary snacks and drinks can prevent tooth erosion and periodontal disease.
Smoking weakens your immune system, making it harder for your gums to fight infection and heal. According to the CDC, smokers have twice the risk for periodontal disease as nonsmokers. And the longer you smoke, the greater your chances.
Have Regular Professional Exams to Check for Early Gum Disease
Don’t skip your dental exams. To avoid periodontal disease, it’s a good idea to have a comprehensive periodontal evaluation at least once each year.
Your oral surgeon can examine your gums and mouth, looking for early signs of gum disease. And if you have gingivitis, the condition can be treated so that it doesn’t develop into periodontitis.
Are you concerned about your oral health? Contact one of the convenient Salt Lake City area offices of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah today to schedule a gum disease evaluation.