What is Gum Disease?
The most common disease in Canada is not what you may think. Heart disease, stroke, or cancer come to mind, but actually, gum disease is the single most prevalent disease in Canada. In fact, it affects more people than heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and cancer combined. About 80% of the population has some form of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, periodontitis (advanced), and gingivitis (mild). Read more about what is gum disease.
Gum disease is an infection of the gums and bone that support teeth, and it usually starts early in life, then progresses as a person ages. It all starts when plaque hardens into tartar (also called calculus) below the gum line. This irritates vulnerable soft tissues and infection can set in. Combined with decaying food particles lodged between teeth and bacteria emitted by plaque, the infection can spread quickly.
Symptoms are so mild in the early phase, many patients don’t recognize them: red, tender, swollen gums, bleeding when brushing teeth.
Regular dental check ups are vital because a professional can detect, treat, and reverse gum disease in early stages before major problems arise.
Seventy percent of adult tooth loss is attributed to gum disease. Recent research shows a link between patients who have gum disease and those who suffer from strokes, heart attacks, or complications with diabetes or pregnancy.
As the condition progresses, gums recede from teeth and pockets of bacteria form. The bacteria can destroy gum tissue and bone, causing tooth and bone loss.
Why is Gingivitis so Serious?
Recent research reveals that gum disease is linked to increased risk for major overall health problems, including but not limited to stroke, heart disease, respiratory problems, osteoporosis, diabetes complications, low birth weight, and most recently, dementia.
Because of these findings, research continues. We may learn much more in the next few years.
It makes perfect sense, though – gum disease linked to overall health problems. Everything that enters or is present in the mouth has access to the whole body. The mouth is like a portal to the body. That’s why regular checkups and hygiene visits are vital to not only oral health but also overall health.
Cause of Gum Disease?
Several factors contribute to periodontal disease: plaque buildup, heredity, and lifestyle choices. By far, the most common and controllable factor is bacterial plaque, the sticky, colorless film produced by normal oral bacteria. Bacteria release toxins that break down the natural fibers that bond gums to teeth. When this occurs, pockets between the gums and teeth form, and more bacteria and toxins hide, flourish, and destroy your gums and teeth.
Over time, this process can affect not only gums, teeth, and bone within the mouth, but also overall health. Bacteria in your mouth will be inadvertently ingested, and this can compromise your whole-body health.
Is Gum Disease Curable?
Unfortunately, it is difficult to eliminate gum disease entirely. However, we can detect early warning signs of gum disease at your regular dental checkups. At this stage, prevention might be as simple as changing your brushing technique, improving your flossing routine, or changing the products you use for oral care at home.
Once gum disease sets in, we can often treat it with non-surgical therapy including:
- Scaling – to remove hardened plaque from below the gum line
- Root Planing – to reduce rough areas on teeth roots
- Antibiotic Therapy – to battle infection
- Laser Treatment – to remove bacteria and promote gum reattachment
- Surgery – advanced cases may require the care of a periodontist, in which case we will refer you to a trusted colleague
Expect to attend more frequent hygiene visits so that a dentist or hygienist can monitor your condition and make sure that recovery is on track. Read more about cures for periodontitis.
How do I Maintain Good Periodontal Health?
Regular dental visits at least every six months allow us to keep a watchful eye on the health of your gums. You should also brush twice a day, floss once a day, and use good mouth rinses at home. We will recommend the products that will optimize your oral homecare, and we can also show you the best methods for brushing and flossing. If you have overcome periodontal disease, we will recommend frequent checkups to ensure your mouth stays healthy for a lifetime.
10 Home Remedies That can Help Prevent Gum Disease or Gingivitis
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Ideally, brush your teeth after each meal.
- Use an electric toothbrush as this will help you clean your teeth better, especially the spaces between the teeth. Remember that this does not replace flossing.
- Do not use a toothbrush that has very hard bristles. This can scour your teeth as well as sometime damage the gums.
- Ensure that your toothbrush is capable of the best clean. Replace your every three to four months or as needed.
- Floss at least once daily.
- Use a mouthwash. Ask your dentist to recommend which mouthwash may be best for you.
- Use an interdental brush to get to those spaces between your teeth, where your toothbrush cannot reach
- Visit your dentist at the frequency recommended by your dentist. At the minimum, once a year.
- Do not smoke or chew tobacco.
- Cut down on sugary snacks and beverages