Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is one of the most common oral health issues that adults experience (second only to tooth decay). In fact, it affects more than 70 percent of adults to some degree, and more people lose teeth to the disease than to any other oral health condition. However, despite its prevalence, gum disease is also one of the most preventable conditions. At our Encinitas/San Diego periodontal office, we offer a number of preventive treatments designed to help you avoid the development of gum disease, or to prevent it from causing serious trouble if it already has.
How it all starts
One of the reasons why periodontal disease is so prevalent is because many people don’t recognize the risks or the symptoms of the disease until they become serious. When it first develops, gum disease appears as a relatively minor infection in your gums caused by harmful oral bacteria. As plaque and tartar build along your gums, the bacteria can irritate and infect the tissues, causing them to separate from your teeth and allowing the bacteria to work their way between them. Known as gingivitis, this infection can cause redness and swelling in your gums, along with slight bleeding as it grows worse.
Identifying your risks
For many people, the change in their gums’ appearance can go unnoticed at first. Because they don’t realize it, they also don’t pay as much attention to common risk factors that make severe gum disease more likely. For example, if you smoke or chew tobacco, then you’re almost destined to develop periodontal disease at some point. Once these signs appear, its progression will occur even more rapidly. Other risk factors can include skipping a dental checkup and cleaning, or not cleaning your gums well enough when you brush and floss your teeth.
What to do if it shows up
If you do notice that gum disease has developed, or if your dentist or periodontist notices it during your regular preventive visits, then treating it as soon as possible is essential. If caught and treated early enough, gingivitis may be reversed with personalized periodontal cleaning (or scaling and root planing). The process involves carefully removing the bacteria from underneath your gums, which allows the tissue to heal. Your periodontist will also recommend avoiding your specific risk factors to lower your risks of more serious gum disease in the future.
Learn how to prevent gum disease
Gum disease may be common, but for many people, it can be successfully prevented with the right level of care and maintenance. For more information, schedule a consultation with Dr. Kania by calling her periodontal office in Encinitas/San Diego, CA, at (760) 642-0711.