Gum disease has become such a common phrase that it hardly seems like a serious problem to much of the population. However, even though nearly 75% of adults in America have some degree of gum disease, its frequent occurrence does not mean that it is harmless. It starts with a bacterial infection, and if left untreated, will work to destroy your gum tissue and tooth-supporting structures, leading to tooth loss and the deterioration of your jawbone. In fact, gum disease is the number one cause of adult tooth loss in America today. Luckily, there are numerous steps you can take to protect your gums from this disease, or to treat it once the disease develops. Your Encinitas periodontist Dr. Ann Kania explains a couple of the most effective maintenance techniques for good gum health.
Gum Disease Prevention at Home
As destructive as gum disease can be, you may be surprised to learn that its development typically stems from poor oral hygiene and a susceptible patient. When the bacteria in your mouth congregate, they generate a sticky biofilm called plaque that protects them and allows them to adhere to the surfaces of your mouth. Something as simple as brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once, you can help prevent the excessive accumulation of bacterial plaque. If not removed, plaque hardens into tartar (calculus), which cannot be removed with your toothbrush and must be addressed by a dentist or dental hygienist during a professional dental cleaning. Plaque and tartar that collect at your gum line can irritate your gums and cause them to pull away, creating small pockets where bacteria can collect and grow, promoting the disease.
Supplement Your Gum Health
Modern life doesn’t always allow us to eat as healthy as we’d like, or should. As a result, our diets do not always supply an adequate amount of nutrients for our bodies to perform their best. Many of us compensate by adding daily nutritional supplements to ensure that we ingest the recommended daily amount of vitamins and minerals. Aside from your physical wellbeing, supplements can also benefit your oral health. Calcium, for instance, helps keep your teeth strong by fortifying your tooth enamel (the protective layer that surrounds your tooth’s crown). The mineral also helps keep your jawbone strong, which provides a strong foundation for the tooth roots that are embedded within it. Calcium is not produced by the body, so ingesting adequate amounts is especially important. Vitamin C, which is a key building block for collagen, is essential to keep your gums attached to your teeth. Eating a whole foods, unrefined diet is your best source of these nutrients.
Leave it to the Professionals
With all of the steps you can take to protect your gum health, your success still depends on another critical factor; professional periodontal maintenance. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends visiting your dentist at least once every six months for a dental checkup and cleaning. Your dentist or hygienist will carefully, but thoroughly, remove residual traces of plaque and tartar, including at and below your gum line. Also, the examination will allow your dentist to inspect your mouth for early signs of disease, which can improve your chances of successful treatment. Unfortunately, many people suffer from gum disease and don’t know it because it rarely hurts. Similar to diabetes and hypertension, testing and evaluation is required to detect the disease. If you have questions you can contact Dr. Kania at our Encinitas periodontal care office by calling (706) 642-0711. We serve patients from Encinitas, San Diego, Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar, La Costa, and the neighboring communities.