When you think of taking care of your oral health, you probably think about your teeth, and the importance of keeping them healthy and strong. But what you may not realize is that most cases of tooth loss are not due to cavities or tooth decay. That’s right — periodontal disease, or gum disease, is the most common cause of tooth loss in American adults.
Gum disease often doesn’t have symptoms in its early stages. This is one reason it’s so important to visit Texas Grins Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry every six months for an examination and cleaning. Call our Willow Park, TX office at 817-779-7111 to get that all-important checkup in the books.
Gum Disease Is an Epidemic
If you are over the age of 30, you are as likely as not to have some form of periodontal disease. And as you get older, your risk only increases. Seventy percent of Americans older than 65 have gum disease.
Gum disease comes in two forms, though they are really two parts of a spectrum. Gingivitis is the earliest, less serious type. At this point, your gums may be swollen and tender, or you may notice no symptoms at all.
If your gingivitis goes untreated, however, it will advance to periodontitis, or advanced gum disease. At this point, plaque and bacteria under the gumline may cause more inflammation, and the gums to separate from the teeth. As these pockets of infection grow, gum tissue and bone may be destroyed. Eventually, the teeth will loosen and fall out or require extraction.
While losing teeth may seem bad enough, the effects of periodontal disease extend beyond the mouth. Research has shown gum disease to be directly associated with a number of serious systemic health problems. People with gum disease appear to be at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, apparently due to inflammation. People with diabetes are much more likely to contract gum disease — and gum disease may increase blood sugar in diabetics, making them susceptible to complications. Some research has suggested that gum disease may increase the risk of certain cancers, though the nature of the relationship is not yet clear.
Stop Gum Disease Before It Starts
There are several ways you can help prevent periodontal disease from taking hold.
- Keep your teeth and gums pristine with excellent oral hygiene habits. Brush twice a day, floss daily, and use mouthwash to rinse away even more bacteria and food particles.
- Visit us at Texas Grins every six months. We will be able to clean your mouth more thoroughly than you can at home, and Dr. Crain will examine your gums for early signs of disease.
- Eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. People who are obese or have a nutrient-poor diet are more likely to have periodontal disease.
Assess Your Gum Disease Risk
Anyone can get gum disease, but some people are at a higher risk than others. Some of these factors are under your control, others are not. But it’s important to understand your risk regardless.
- The older you are, the more likely you are to have gum disease. Seventy percent of Americans over the age of 65 have some form of it.
- Smoking and tobacco use are a major periodontal disease risk factor. And smokers’ disease tends to be more difficult to treat.
- If you clench or grind your teeth, you may damage gum tissue.
- Gum disease has a genetic component. If members of your family have it, you are more likely to as well.
- Certain medications may dry out your mouth and make you more susceptible to gum problems.
- Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis may increase your gum disease risk.
- Stress makes you more likely to grind your teeth, and makes it more difficult for your body to fight off infection.
Know Your Symptoms
If you begin experiencing the following symptoms, you may have gum disease. Book an appointment at Texas Grins immediately to get checked out.
- Swollen, red, tender gums. This is often one of the first symptoms to appear.
- Bad breath that won’t go away.
- A change in your bite, or the way your teeth fit together.
- Gums that begin to pull away from your teeth.
- Pus on the gums around your teeth.
- Pain or tooth sensitivity.
- Bleeding gums.
- Teeth that are loose or fall out.
Texas Grins has Gum Disease Solutions
Dr. Ryan Crain of Texas Grins believes in being aggressive with gum disease treatment, due to the devastating effects it can have throughout the body.
We urge you to come for cleanings and exams every six months. A good cleaning will get rid of the disease-causing plaque under the gumline, and a professional examination is vital for catching early signs of disease.
If you have a fairly minor case of gingivitis, we will likely advise you to practice enhanced oral hygiene practices at home, which is often enough to reverse the damage.
If your disease has progressed, we offer state-of-the-art minimally invasive laser treatment that eliminates diseased tissue comfortably.