Gum disease is a progressive dental illness that occurs in two stages: gingivitis, which can usually be reversed, and periodontitis, which results in long-term damage. Seeing your dentist in Towson for regular cleanings and exams can reduce your risk of developing this devastating condition.
What Is Gum Disease?
The primary threat to the average person’s dental health is plaque, a sticky substance that forms on the enamel exterior of teeth. Plaque contains harmful bacteria that secrete corrosive acids. These poisons not only damage tooth enamel, they also irritate gum tissues, causing sensitivity and bleeding.
At this point, aggressive treatment can usually stop the progression of the illness. The dentist may perform a root scaling and cleaning procedure to remove built-up plaque, prescribe an anti-plaque mouthwash, or use concentrated fluoride to protect tooth enamel.
Failing intervention, gum disease typically progresses to its latter stage. By this point, both the invading bacteria as well as the body’s immune system are producing byproducts that erode the bone and fibers holding the patient’s teeth in place. This in turn leads to tooth loss and infection of gum tissues. The gums themselves begin to shrink, forming open pockets in which infection can continue to develop.
This sets the stage for further tooth loss and other advanced symptoms, such as disintegration of the bones beneath the gum line. In severe cases, patients may need extensive reconstructive surgery to undo the functional and aesthetic damage caused by the condition.
Does Gum Disease Lead to Other Health Problems?
A growing body of research strongly suggests that the bacteria which causes tooth decay and gum disease can have serious effects on the sufferer’s health. This is particularly true if he or she is suffering from a compromised immune system. There is an undeniable correlation between gum disease and higher rates of diabetes, cancer, and other serious health conditions.
The Best Cure Is Prevention
The best way to treat gum disease is to prevent it from ever starting. Fortunately, there are things that everyone can do to reduce their risk of developing the illness. They include:
- Proper oral hygiene. Daily brushing and flossing, minimizing sugar intake, avoiding alcohol or drinking it only in moderation, staying away from tobacco and vaping products, and living a drug-free lifestyle are essential for enjoying healthy teeth and gums.
- Regular professional dental care. Self-care by itself can never remove all the plaque that leads to gum disease. Seeing your dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and exams is a crucial supplementary step.
- Avoiding tooth grinding. People who grind their teeth increase their risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. Some ways to manage this problem include systematic relaxation, wearing a nighttime mouthguard, and lifestyle changes to minimize the effects of stress.
- Staying physically active. Exercise benefits every aspect of a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health, including the condition of their teeth and gums.
The consequences of gum disease are too serious to ignore. Follow the tips in this post and see your dentist in Towson soon to learn more about protecting your oral health. The time and effort will more than pay for themselves by helping you to live a happier, healthier life.
About the Author
Dr. Devon Conklin has been practicing dentistry for more than 10 years. She earned her DDS degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore College of Dental Surgery and has completed advanced training in restorative and periodontal techniques. You can reach her office online or by calling (410) 583-7010.