Your smile is an important part of who you are, which is all just another reason why you should care about your gum health as well. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and raise your risk of other health issues such as cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.
At our Birmingham, MI dental office, we want to help you keep your mouth and yourself as healthy as you can be. With our gum disease treatments and preventive care, we can help you keep smiling for a long time.
Today we will be discussing some basics that everyone should know about periodontal health. This includes what we can do to help you maintain your healthy gums.
To schedule a treatment or a cleaning, call Newingham Dental Center at 248-972-8720.
Symptoms of Periodontal Problems
To understand whether you have gum disease, it’s helpful to understand what healthy gums look and feel like. It’s also useful to know the stages of gum disease.
To start, healthy gums look pink and they feel firm to the touch. They also do not bleed when you brush or floss your teeth.
In fact, bleeding while brushing or flossing is a sign of gingivitis, which is the mild form of gum disease. So are gums the look redder than usual or appear puffy or swollen.
Often, you can take action at home to treat a gum infection at this stage. Flossing more regularly (daily is best) can do a lot to improve your gum health. Keeping up that habit can make you much less likely to develop more problems down the road.
If your gingivitis persists, you could develop the advanced gum disease. This is periodontitis, and it does require professional care and treatment.
The symptoms of periodontitis are more noticeable. They can include:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Pimple-like bumps on your gums
- Pus leaking from your gums
- Constant bad taste in your mouth or bad breath
- Sore and tender gums
- Receding gums
- Teeth that feel loose in their sockets
You should be aware that untreated gum disease is the top cause of tooth loss in the United States. If you want to keep your smile, it’s important to take care of your gums, too.
Testing & Treating Your Infection
If you suspect that you might have gum disease, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with us as soon as you are able. As with most disease, early treatment is the most effective and least invasive way to deal with the problem.
In the earlier stages, we may be able to remove the infection with scaling and root planing. This is a procedure to remove plaque and tartar buildup around the roots of your teeth. Then we smooth out the surface of the roots, which makes it more difficult for bacteria to attach.
One thing we often do is take a saliva sample from patients with gum disease. This allows us to get a DNA test on the bacteria in your mouth since there are multiple kinds of bacteria that can cause gum infections.
Using an antibiotic or a rinse like CariFree, you can remove the bacteria that are affecting your oral health.
If these treatments aren’t enough to eliminate your infection, it may be necessary to refer you to a specialist to take care of the problem.
Risk Factors You Should Know
As with most disease, some people are at a greater risk to develop gum infections. This can be the result of behaviors, or your risk may increase as a result of factors that you can’t control.
Knowing that you may be at greater risk can be an important reminder to keep an eye out for the symptoms mentioned earlier in this post. These risk factors include:
- Poor oral care — There’s a reason the ADA recommends flossing daily, yet surveys show that less than half of Americans actually do this. Coincidentally, more than half of Americans develop gum disease during their lives.
- Poor diet — For better or worse, your diet affects your overall health, which includes your oral health, too.
- Diabetes — People with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal problems. At the same time, having a gum infection can make it more difficult to keep your blood sugar under control
- Being male — Overall men are more likely to have gum infections than women. However, women’s risk of gum disease increases during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
- Getting older — Fair or not, our bodies don’t work the same as we get older, and that can leave you more susceptible to gum disease.
- Medications — Some medications cause side effects (such as dry mouth) that raise your risk of periodontal problems.
- Tobacco use — Using tobacco of any kind is one of the worst things you can do for your oral and overall health. Tobacco use also makes it more difficult to treat your gums and makes you more likely to develop chronic gum health issues.
Focus on Prevention
Dr. Newingham and our team of professional can treat your gum infection.
But preventing problems is always the best approach to oral care.
Daily brushing and flossing is incredibly important for this. Flossing is often neglected. Some people just don’t like flossing. Some people have trouble using dental floss.
At the same time, you need to know that brushing is not a particularly effective way to clean the spaces between your teeth or between your teeth and gums.
If you are unwilling or unable to use dental floss, then we encourage you to try some alternatives.
Many people find flossers more comfortable to use. Flossers have short handles and a piece of floss on one end. You can find them in the toothpaste aisle at many retail stores.
Another great option is a water flosser. These come in a variety of styles and prices, so you can find one that works for you and your budget. A water flosser uses a stream of water to clean the places that are tough for your toothbrush.
And don’t forget to schedule routine dental cleanings and exams as well. This gives us a chance to remove plaque and tartar that you may have missed. Regular checkups also make it more likely that we can spot any signs of gum infections in the early stages, when treatment will be more effective.
Whether you need to treatment or want to prevent a problem, please contact Newingham Dental Center today to schedule your next dental checkup with us. You can fill out our online form or call 248-972-8720 to get started.