When we were young, we knew our dentist filled cavities when we didn’t brush and floss adequately. Beyond avoiding that pain (and maybe braces when we were teenagers), few of us knew anything about dentistry until we were adults.
Healthy Gums Prevent Costly Dental Work
That’s when we slowly began to realize that keeping our gums healthy not only would save us a lot of pain and expensive dental work, this would also have positive consequences for our overall health. Periodontal (gum) bacteria can not only cause the support of the gums for the teeth to peel away, with the result that they fall out or need to be extracted, but they can significantly raise the risk for everything from cardiovascular disease to cancer.
So it is critical that everyone pay close attention to signs of the development of periodontal disease and take steps to have its progression stopped by improving your oral hygiene habits, as well as with the help of your dental hygienist and Dr. Cluff.
The first stage is called gingivitis, which starts because food particles are not entirely cleaned off the teeth, especially at the gum line. A bacterial film develops around them within a couple of days called plaque. If not removed with more effective brushing and flossing, it hardens into what is called tartar, which needs a professional hygienist to do so, since she has special tools, techniques, and antibacterial solutions that can be injected.
Gingivitis is not painful, but the gums may become swollen and dark red due to the bacterial infection. Another indicator, which may be hard to notice unless someone says something, is bad breath, also the result of periodontal bacteria in plaque and tartar.
The final stage is when gums start to bleed easily when you brush and floss, even if you use a soft bristle brush and are not flossing so vigorously that healthy gums are being cut. By this time, they will also feel tender when you touch them.
Periodontitis is the final stage of gum infection, as the gums recede from the teeth and may even expose their roots, which become painful when touched. If not checked, the gum disease will result in the affected teeth becoming so loose they need to be extracted before they fall out. By the time Americans are 35-44, 69% have already lost at least one tooth.
Missing teeth, whether due to gum disease or an accident, cannot be ignored because the mouth’s response is to try to “fill the gap” by having the neighboring teeth lean in. This begins a process of misalignment of the entire bite, which could lead to other teeth becoming loose. The infection could even reach into the jawbone, requiring a bone graft. If the missing teeth are not replaced by a dental implant or the misalignment stopped by a dental bridge, the end result would mean a denture is necessary.
If you notice signs of gum disease, make an immediate appointment with your dental hygienist and for Dr. Cluff to give you a full oral examination. Prevention and treatment can restore your beautiful and healthy smile.