How can I prevent gum disease?
- Daily oral homecare: Preventing gum disease begins at home, between regular dental cleanings. Your goal is to prevent plaque from hardening into tartar. We strongly advise that patients clean their teeth and mouth by brushing twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste and flossing daily. Brushing removes daily plaque deposits and flossing helps keep the spaces between teeth clean and free of debris. Brushing and flossing also disrupt colonies of bacteria, making plaque formation more difficult. Plaque is a naturally occurring substance that forms on our teeth all the time. In about two days, plaque hardens into calculus (tartar), which can irritate gum tissue and lead to infection. Calculus is an insoluble substance, meaning that it will not dissolve easily. Brushing and flossing can deter plaque and calculus, but you cannot remove all plaque, even if you’re diligent with oral homecare.
- Six-month checkups and cleanings: You should visit our office for checkups and cleanings every six months. At dental cleanings, our hygienists will assess your gums for signs of gum disease, then clean calculus from your teeth. She may recommend an adjustment to your home hygiene routine to help you prevent gum disease or its progression.
- Bacteria-fighting oral care products: Your hygienist can recommend the best products to address your mouth’s biological tendencies. For instance, if you tend to develop cavities easily, you may benefit from fluoridated mouthwash. Similarly, to deter build-up of the bacteria that cause gum disease, an anti-bacterial mouthwash, like Listerine, may be advised.
- Stop smoking: Tobacco use comes with a long list of hazards, and gum disease makes the list. Smokers are more likely to develop gum disease than are non-smokers.
- Hydrate: Calculus is insoluble, but plaque is not. Saliva is our mouth’s natural defense against bacteria, but you can boost the defenses by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Water rinses bacteria from the mouth.
- Diet: Eat a balanced diet and limit your intake of sugary foods. Bacteria thrive on sugar. Try to incorporate foods rich in vitamin C into your diet, as well.
What are the risk factors for periodontal disease?
- Poor oral hygiene
- Eating sugary or acidic foods
- Tooth abnormalities
- Hormone changes
- Chewing tobacco
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Acidic PH saliva: we will test your PH for free!
- Certain medications such as steroids and oral contraceptives
- Vitamin C deficiency
- Genetic factors
- Osteoporosis and osteonecrosis
- Herpes, syphilis
- Autoimmune disease, tuberculosis
Of what symptoms should I be aware?
Keep your guard up by looking for the symptoms of gum disease during your daily oral hygiene routine. If you are spitting blood in the sink when you brush your teeth, you may have the beginning symptoms of early periodontitis, called gingivitis. Check to see if your gums are deep red or purple in appearance. Swollen or sensitive gums are also a sign of gingivitis. Does your breath stink or does your mouth taste unpleasant, even after brushing or flossing? Chronic halitosis and unpleasant taste are symptoms of periodontal disease. When you notice these early signs of periodontal disease, it is imperative to have a dental cleaning or checkup with Dr. Baptiste.