Do you know how your parents always told you to brush your teeth? And then you know how sometimes you conveniently “forgot” to brush them before you went to bed?
Neglecting to brush your teeth may have seemed like a minor, youthful slip-up, but it can make a crucial difference in your oral health. While missing an occasional brushing is not the end of the world, if you continue that habit and it becomes more frequent, you just might be in for a world of hurt.
Not brushing your teeth can lead to gum disease, which then can lead to lost teeth and other consequences. Luckily, that also means brushing and flossing is one of the best ways to prevent these worst-case scenarios. Here at Dentistry Optimized in Inver Heights, Dr. Norman Cotes doesn’t want this to be your fate, so here’s some advice on how to fight tooth and nail against gum disease.
What is gum disease?
Periodontitis, also known as gum disease, is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue of your gums. If it is not treated, it can lead to tooth loosening or tooth loss, and it can even destroy the bone that supports your teeth. Periodontitis is a fairly common problem — according to the Centers for Disease Control, it affects half of all Americans age 30 and over, which equals almost 65 million people.
Symptoms of periodontitis include swollen, puffy gums that are tender and bleed easily, persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth, receding gums, the formation of pockets between your teeth and gums, loose or shifting teeth, and any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down.
What causes gum disease?
While there are other causes, periodontitis usually occurs due to poor oral hygiene. In other words, people don’t brush their teeth or floss regularly. This lack of oral care causes a sticky film called plaque to form on your teeth. Plaque is made up mainly of bacteria; if you don’t brush and floss, it can harden into tartar, which is filled with bacteria and even more difficult to remove than plaque.
You can’t remove tartar just by brushing and flossing – you’ll need a professional cleaning. If this doesn’t happen, the plaque may cause irritation and inflammation of your gums. This is the mildest form of gum disease, called gingivitis.
If this inflammation is left unchecked, it can cause deep pockets to form between your teeth and gums. These pockets can fill up with bacteria, plaque, and tartar. At this point, you have full-blown periodontitis, which can cause a loss of tissue, bone, and teeth.
How can you prevent it?
The first method of prevention is simple: brush your teeth! Do this for at least two minutes at least twice a day, along with flossing once a day. This will rid your teeth of bacteria and food particles and will prevent an environment that is not favorable to the bacteria that cause gum disease. Antibacterial mouthwash can also help.
You should also see your dentist twice a year for regular cleanings to keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong. Also, cleanings allow your dentist can detect early signs of gum disease and help you take steps to prevent it from turning into periodontitis..
Your lifestyle plays an important role in your gum health as well. If you use tobacco, quitting will help protect your gums. A reduced risk of gum disease is just one among countless benefits to eating a healthy diet and reducing your overall stress levels.
If you’re overdue for your cleaning, stop putting off the inevitable and contact Dentistry Optimized today to get started! You can reach our office by phone or you can schedule your own appointment with our convenient scheduling tool.
We can’t wait to see you in the office. Let’s make a regular habit of it to aid in your fight against gum disease!