Your gums might get a little less attention than your teeth, but they’re just as crucial to your oral health. The gums support your teeth and contribute to the balance of your smile. But those soft tissues aren’t as hardy as enamel – and they can fall prey to irritation and infection.
We do everything possible to help our patients avoid gum disease. The first step is providing routine teeth cleanings so that you can remove plaque before it irritates your gums. Schedule your next exam today, and learn more about disease prevention below.
Am I at a heightened risk of developing periodontal disease?
Knowing the risk factors involved in disease is crucial. While gum disease is caused by plaque buildup, there are other lifestyle and genetic factors that heighten your likelihood of developing it.
It’s also key that you know what to watch for – be vigilant for gums looking red or purple, swollen gums, or bleeding gums (usually during/after brushing and flossing). Symptoms can be more subtle, though, especially during the early stages (gingivitis). Periodontal disease is not usually painful until it has become more advanced.
Nearly half of American adults have periodontal disease – and most don’t realize it.
If you fall into one or more of these risk categories, you may benefit from more frequent dental exams so that Dr. Phillippi can better monitor your gums:
- Family history of gum disease
- Tobacco use
- Being over the age of 65
- Taking medications that impact oral health, including hormonal birth control, antidepressants, and some heart medications
- Chronic bruxism (clenching/grinding)
- Other diseases that affect the body’s inflammatory or immune systems, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Poor nutrition
What are the best ways to prevent gum disease at home?
Periodontal disease is caused by plaque buildup. Plaque is a film of bacteria, food particles and saliva that clings to the teeth. It needs to be regularly removed before it hardens into calculus, which is much more difficult to remove at home.
The simplest way to prevent gum disease is to brush and floss regularly and effectively – brush twice a day, and floss once a day. You should also schedule regular dental exams so that Dr. Phillippi can check for early signs of gingivitis.
What will my periodontal treatment be like?
Each patient’s periodontal treatment is tailored to their needs and the severity of the disease. Dr. Phillippi and your hygienist will evaluate your teeth and gums and recommend the best course of action.
Common components of gum disease treatment include:
- Scaling and root planing – Plaque and calculus need to be removed from your teeth in order for you to fight periodontal disease. Scaling and planing remove plaque to set patients on the path back toward wellness.
- Antiobiotics – Antiobiotics may be prescribed for the patient to help fight infection. Medication may be placed locally, under the gums.
- Follow-up appointments – It’s absolutely vital that you complete your follow-ups so that we can ensure that disease does not return.
If necessary, a gum graft or other surgical procedures may be recommended. This will help rebuild your gum line after advanced periodontitis, and better protect against the return of disease.
Concerned about your gums? Schedule an exam to learn more about your periodontal health, and your options for moving forward.