Gum disease is one of the most common oral health problems. According to the CDC, approximately 47.2% of adults in America suffer from some form of gum disease.
Gum disease is caused when the sticky film of plaque that forms after eating hardens into tartar along the gum line, irritating the soft tissue and causing inflammation and infection.
If left untreated, gum disease can have severe consequences for your oral and general health. It is linked to several serious conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Tips for Preventing Gum Disease
Prevention is the best way to minimize your risk of developing gum disease. There are several simple things you can do to care for your teeth and gums to prevent gum disease, including:
Maintain a Thorough Oral Hygiene Routine
The key to gum disease prevention is a regular oral health routine, including twice daily brushing and flossing. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, and brush in gentle circular motions with the brush head angled 45° away from the tooth and gum line for at least two minutes. If possible, use an electric toothbrush because these models remove more plaque and food debris than manual brushing.
Flossing is essential to remove buildup from between the teeth. When flossing, use lightly waxed floss, and avoid snapping the floss against your gums, as this may cause damage.
Use a Therapeutic Mouth Rinse
In addition to brushing and flossing, using a therapeutic mouthwash once per day can help eliminate residual bacteria to slow plaque development. Look for brands with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval, which means that it is certified as safe and effective.
Get Regular Dental Cleanings
Even with regular brushing and flossing, you may not be able to remove all plaque deposits from your gumline. This plaque can eventually calcify into tartar which can only be removed by a dentist.
Visiting your dentist twice a year for a checkup and professional cleaning allows them to eliminate plaque above and below the gumline. It also enables the dentist to check the depth of your gum pockets using a periodontal probe. The space between your tooth crown and gum tissue should not exceed 3 mm.
Smoking weakens your immune system, making it difficult for your body to heal damaged or diseased gum tissue. It also reduces saliva production, leading to dry mouth and gum recession, contributing to gum pocket formation and tooth root decay.
If you have struggled to quit before, talk to your doctor about practical quitting strategies and try resources such as smokefree.gov for helpful tools and support.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Food high in insoluble fiber, such as crunchy fruits and vegetables, provides essential nutrients to support tooth and gum health, while the mildly abrasive fibers gently stimulate circulation in your gum tissue.
You should also make sure you drink plenty of water to prevent dry mouth and flush away food debris and bacteria from your teeth. The average person needs between 8-10 cups or ½ a gallon of water each day, more if you are highly active.
Gum Disease Treatments
Though gum disease can be asymptomatic, most people experience a combination of symptoms, including tender bleeding gums, loose teeth, foul breath, and bite changes, which indicate that they may be suffering from gum disease.
Gingivitis is the early form of gum disease and can often be treated by making some lifestyle changes and visiting your dentist for a cleaning. However, advanced gum disease, called periodontitis, may require more extensive treatments, such as:
- Antibiotics. A course of antibiotics can eliminate the infection and reduce inflammation, allowing your body to heal the gum tissue. You may also be prescribed an antiseptic mouthwash.
- Scaling. Scaling involves removing the layer of tartar from the tooth above and below the gumline. This is achieved either using a metal hooked scraper and curette or an ultrasonic scaling handpiece.
- Root Planing. Root planing usually follows a scaling treatment. Your dentist smooths the tooth root’s surface, which allows the gum tissue to reattach more effectively.
- Gum Graft. If your gums have receded due to gum disease, you may need a gum graft to restore tissue volume. There are various graft types, but they all essentially use a section of tissue placed in the gum pocket to form a nutrient-rich matrix to encourage gum tissue growth.
- Flap/Pocket Reduction Surgery. Flap surgery is necessary to reduce gum pocket depth and remove deep tartar. The gum is surgically lifted away from the tooth root, then the tartar is removed, and the gum is reattached in a new position.
Visit TruBlu Dentistry to Protect Your Gums
If you notice the signs and symptoms of gum disease, call TruBlu Dentistry to schedule your appointment for a dental exam and hygiene cleaning. We’ll help keep your teeth and gums healthy so that you can smile with confidence.