Proper care of your teeth helps prevent gum disease, a chronic condition caused by bacteria in the mouth. Our dentists and hygienists are trained to look for and treat the earliest signs of gum disease, and can educate you to properly care for your mouth and protect your gums.
Gum disease is a chronic condition, which is caused by bacteria in the mouth. The end result of gum disease is tooth loss, and everyone is susceptible. Gum disease is much like diabetes, in that once a person develops the illness, they will have it for the rest of their life. Whether it progresses, causes any long-term affect such as tooth loss depends on how well it is controlled.
The best prevention is to avoid ever developing gum problems, and if developed, to keep the gums as healthy as possible.
How Does It Develop And Progress?
Whenever we eat, plaque bacteria grow and release by-products of metabolism, which is irritating to the gum tissue. The gums respond by becoming red, puffy and swollen. At this point they may bleed when we brush and sometimes will also be sore. The minerals naturally found in saliva deposit in plaque to form a very hard material called calculus or tartar. This tartar is even more damaging to the gum tissue in that it cannot be removed by brushing or flossing, and it often builds up in areas underneath the gums which are very difficult to reach.
If left untreated, the bone around the teeth becomes irritated. This results in the bone ‘shrinking’ or resorbing. In later stages the gums will also shrink as bone is lost. This bone loss creates very deep spaces called periodontal pockets which trap even greater amounts of plaque and tartar. If enough bone and gum tissue has been lost the roots will become exposed, the teeth may become sensitive and will begin to look longer. In later stages, a patient may notice his/her teeth either shifting or becoming loose. Unfortunately, by the time this has occurred, about 50% or more bone has already been lost. And once bone is lost it is lost forever.
How Can I Prevent Or Stop It?
The simplest prevention is to brush and floss your teeth daily. Brushing will remove any plaque on the outside surfaces of the teeth, and flossing will remove plaque which builds up between the teeth. Toothbrushes do not reach areas between the teeth, so if you do not floss, you are not cleaning all around your teeth thoroughly.
Next, visit your dentist regularly. Dentists and hygienists are trained to look for the earliest signs of gum disease, and can remove any calculus that has built up underneath or around the gums. This calculus cannot be removed by simply brushing, so it is vital that each of us has a professional cleaning done in a dental office.
Generally, a very thorough cleaning will improve a persons’ gum problems significantly so that it can be later maintained with routine care. In some cases, periodontal pockets have been created that makes it impossible to stop the progression of the disease without gum surgery. Some teeth may have to be removed for the sake of keeping those that can be saved. Missing teeth can be replaced with partial dentures, bridges or implants..
How Often Should I Visit The Dentist For A Cleaning?
How often you need to visit the dentist depends on the overall health of your gums, how well you clean our teeth between visits and how much calculus you build up. Most children and adults do well with a visit and cleaning every six months, however, those with current problems may need to be seen every three or four months. Your dental professional can advise you further on how to maintain your gum health.
It’s important to note that many dental insurance companies have begun paying for fewer cleanings (i.e. every nine to twelve months) in order to cut costs and maintain profits. Please follow the advice of your dental professional for optimum cleaning and care, regardless of your dental plan coverage. Decay, tooth loss, loss of fillings, crowns, bridges or implants can be prevented by regular cleanings and proper in home care.
For more information about caring for your gums, contact us today.