Cavities aren’t the only culprit of tooth loss. Gum disease can also cause missing teeth, but an incomplete smile isn’t the only concern. It is linked to increasing the risk of many serious health issues, like cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. While you may not believe you’re at risk, 50% of adults have the preventable infection. Thankfully, your oral and general health doesn’t have to be casualties of the infection. Here’s how your dentist can cure gum disease.
Risks of Untreated Gum Disease
Gum disease is an infection caused by bacteria found in plaque buildup. The early signs of gum disease (gingivitis) appear as red, swollen, and bleeding gums. With no treatment, the infection can spread to surrounding tissues and the jawbone. Once the infection reaches advanced stages (periodontitis) irreversible damage can occur, like tooth and bone loss.
The infection may also enter your bloodstream, wreaking havoc throughout your body. Research has linked gum disease to many health problems, like heart attacks, strokes, diabetic complications, and respiratory infections.
Gum Disease is Curable
Don’t ignore swollen or bleeding gums because gum disease is curable. It’s best to contact your dentist right away and improve your home oral hygiene habits. Brush your teeth at least twice daily, floss nightly, and use a daily mouthrinse will help keep infection at bay.
Besides improving your oral hygiene, your dentist will also create a personalized strategy to stop the infection, which may include:
- Scaling and Root Planing: A special dental instrument removes plaque and tartar from below the gum line. After the periodontal pockets have been cleaned, your dentist will use another dental instrument to smooth the root surfaces. This allows your gums to heal and discourages future buildup.
- Antibiotic Therapy: A topical antibiotic can be applied to the gum tissue to treat the infection.
- Surgical Procedures: Advanced gum disease may require a more invasive solution, like gum grafting.
Your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings and checkups to ensure the infection has been treated and doesn’t return.
Protect Your Smile from Gum Disease
Once the infection has been treated, it’s important to be proactive to prevent gum disease from recurring. You can safeguard your gum health by following a few tips:
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and tartar-control toothpaste to brush at least twice daily for 2 minutes each session.
- Use high-quality dental floss to clean between each tooth daily.
- Use an antimicrobial mouthrinse to kill any bacteria left behind by brushing and flossing.
- Don’t smoke or drink alcohol.
- Visit your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and checkup.
You can invest in a healthy mouth and body by giving your teeth and gums the attention they deserve.
About Dr. J. Peter St. Clair
Dr. St. Clair earned his dental degree at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and has regularly continued his education in advanced services, like gum disease therapy, implant dentistry, and sleep medicine. He creates personalized treatment plans to support the mouth and body connection. If you have symptoms of gum disease, request an appointment through our website or call (978) 992-3069.