Gum Disease Awareness Month has been around since 2012, when the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry launched the program. The goal has always been to raise awareness of gum disease and encourage people to take better care of their oral health to prevent it.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease (or periodontitis) is an infection that damages the tissue between your teeth. The infection is a result of plaque build-up that hardens over time. The bacteria in plaque cause inflammation and infection in the soft tissue – the gums.
The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. This is completely reversible and doesn’t cause excessive pain or discomfort, unlike with periodontitis.
Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease, which can lead to serious complications like a breakdown of tissue and bone that support your teeth or the formation of pockets between your teeth and gums that become infected.
Common symptoms associated with periodontitis are:
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Loose teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Spaces developing between your teeth
- Receding gums
- Pus forming between your teeth and gums
The cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene habits like skipping brushing or flossing regularly. Because you’re not brushing away bacteria that builds up naturally in your mouth, it can lead to plaque that hardens into tartar on your teeth that can’t be removed by anyone other than a dental professional.
The Importance of Gum Disease Awareness
Gum disease awareness is incredibly important because while gingivitis is reversible if caught early, periodontitis is not. Periodontal disease is treatable, but the infection may have already affected your teeth and gums by the time it reaches this stage.
There are a variety of risk factors that can contribute to periodontal disease, such as:
- Poor oral hygiene habits
- Medications that reduce the amount of saliva you produce
- Vitamin C deficiency
- Leukemia, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, RA, Crohn’s disease
- Cancer treatments
- Hormonal changes due to menopause or pregnancy
Prevention of Gum Disease
Prevention is the best way to avoid getting gingivitis or having it progress into advanced-stage periodontal disease. We have two recommendations for preventative care.
Better Oral Hygiene
Good oral hygiene habits are key to preventing plaque build-up that can turn into tartar, leading to gum disease. This includes brushing at least twice a day for four minutes and flossing twice daily.
Regular Check-Ups and Cleanings
Routine dental care is your best bet for preventing periodontitis. The dental professional you see every six months has a keen eye for spotting gingivitis before it becomes periodontitis and can recommend treatment options to reverse the effects of gum disease before it’s too late.
Treatment For Gum Disease
Depending on the stage of your gum disease, various treatment options exist.
If you have gingivitis, a professional cleaning can reverse the infection before it infiltrates deeper into your gums, tissue, and bone, leading to tooth loss or pockets between your teeth and infected gums.
Tooth Scaling and Root Planing
If your gingivitis has progressed into advanced-stage gum disease, tooth scaling and root planing may be the best treatment options for you to prevent further damage to your teeth and gums.
Tooth scaling and root planing are deep cleaning treatments done by a dental professional. Tooth scaling treatments remove tartar – hardened plaque – from the surface of your teeth, and root planing gets rid of the tartar below your gum line.
Gum surgery is not recommended until gum disease has advanced to a later stage. It is most useful if you have exhausted all other options used to treat your periodontal disease.
If you and your dental professional decide that gum surgery is the right course of action, your surgery options include:
- Flap surgery
- Bone grafting
- Guided tissue regeneration
- Soft tissue grafts
Enhance Your Gum Disease Awareness With Gentle Dental Care In Rochester
If you need professional cleaning to prevent gum disease, come see us at Empire Dental Care. And if you need treatment for your periodontal disease, we can help with that too. Call us at 585-671-1650.