Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, can negatively affect your oral health and overall physical health. Today, our Ajax dentists offer advice on how you prevent periodontitis.
What is periodontitis (gum disease)?
Periodontitis is a progressive condition that gradually invades your gums. Typically painless in its early stage (gingivitis), it can easily evolve to an advanced stage before you become aware of any problems.
Plaque collects on your teeth and along the gum line, then hardens into a rough, porous deposit referred to as tartar or calculus. Once hardened, only your dentist will have the tools to remove plaque.
As the tartar builds up it causes pockets to form between the teeth and gums where bacteria collects and causes further infection. In its advanced stages, periodontitis can cause loss of bone structure and deterioration of gums - eventually even tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults.
Gum disease has also been linked to overall health issues, including heart disease, caused by bacteria entering the bloodstream through the gums.
That’s why removing plaque with a rigorous daily hygiene routine of brushing and flossing as well as attending regular dental hygiene appointments are key for prevention – and for maintaining your oral health.
How can I prevent periodontitis?
Besides a diligent regular oral hygiene routine, here are some tips on steps you can take to help prevent gum disease:
Take inventory of your medications - Certain medications can contribute to and aggravate gum disease, including antidepressants, heart medicines, and oral contraceptives. While you may not be able to stop taking certain medications, it's good to be aware of the risks and take any extra steps required (such as more regular hygiene visits) to help prevent gum disease.
Increase your consumption of vitamins A and C - These vitamins are part of a healthy diet that can help prevent periodontitis. Conversely, cut down sugary and starchy foods, which allow plaque to build.
Have dental issues treated quickly- Correct dental problems or oral health issues such as teeth grinding, misaligned or crowded teeth. It can be more challenging to properly clean teeth that aren’t properly spaced, thus providing room for plaque to grow and thrive.
Use fluoride toothpaste -This key ingredient removes the buildup of plaque bacteria along the gum line without irritating gums.
Quit smoking - Smoking is not only strongly associated with the onset of gum disease, it makes it more difficult for your gums to heal once they’re damaged, as smoking weakens the immune system.
Know your risks - Whether genetics, diet, age, smoking or other factors make you more susceptible to periodontitis, knowledge is power when it comes to reducing your risk and staying healthy.
Bonus: Ask your dentist about periodontal disease treatment - The earlier your dentist can detect periodontitis (if you do get it), the better. That's because it's easier to treat gum disease in its earlier stages than when it has advanced to the point that you start to lose teeth or jaw bone tissue. Depending on how far the disease has progressed and its severity, there are surgical and non-surgical options for treatment.