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How Can I Prevent Periodontitis?

Periodontal disease can negatively impact both your oral health, and your overall physical health. Today, our Drumheller dentists define periodontitis and offer tips on prevention.

What is periodontitis?

Periodontitis - commonly referred to as gum disease - is a progressive condition that gradually invades your gums. Because it is typically painless in its early stages (gingivitis), it can easily evolve to an advanced stage before you become aware of any problems.

Plaque collects on your teeth and along the gum line, then hardens into a rough, porous deposit referred to as tartar or calculus. Pockets form between the teeth and irritated gums, and bacteria collect here, which can lead to other health problems such as cardiovascular disease. Once hardened, only your dentist will have the tools to remove plaque.

In its advanced stages, periodontitis can cause loss of bone structure and deterioration of gums - eventually even tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults.

These are some important reasons why removing plaque with a rigorous daily hygiene routine of brushing and flossing, as well as attending regular dental hygiene appointments, play an important role when it comes to prevention and maintaining your oral health. 

How can I prevent periodontitis?

While great a great oral hygiene routine is an obvious way to help prevent periodontal disease, there are also some less obvious strategies. Below are some extra tips to help you avoid gum disease or reduce your risk of developing the condition:

  • Take inventory of your medications. Certain medications can contribute to and aggravate gum disease, including antidepressants, heart medicines and oral contraceptives.
  • Increase your consumption of vitamins A and C, which are part of a healthy diet that can help prevent periodontitis. Conversely, cut sugary and starchy foods, which allow plaque to build.
  • Have dental issues treated quickly. Correct dental problems or oral health issues such as teeth grinding, misaligned or crowded teeth. It can be more challenging to properly clean teeth that aren’t properly spaced, thus providing room for plaque to grow and thrive.
  • Gently massage your gums. Along with brushing and flossing regularly (at least twice a day for two minutes each time for brushing, and once daily for thorough flossing), show your gums some love by gently massaging them, which increases blood flow to the tissue.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste. This key ingredient removes the buildup of plaque bacteria along the gum line without irritating gums.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking is not only strongly associated with the onset of gum disease, but it also makes it more difficult for your gums to heal once they’re damaged, as smoking weakens the immune system.
  • Know your risks. Whether genetics, diet, age, smoking or other factors make you more susceptible to periodontitis, knowledge is power when it comes to reducing your risk and staying healthy.
  • Bonus: Ask your dentist about periodontal disease treatment. The earlier your dentist can detect periodontitis (if you do get it), the better. That's because it's easier to treat gum disease in its earlier stages, than when it has advanced to the point that you start to lose teeth or jaw bone tissue. Depending on how far the disease has progressed and its severity, there are surgical and non-surgical options for treatment. 

Maintaining a schedule of twice daily thorough cleaning, and being mindful of reducing your personal risk factors, can go a long way in the fight to prevent gum disease. Your gums are as important as your teeth when it comes to your oral health, so it’s important not to neglect them.

Are your gums painful or bleeding when you brush? Contact our Drumheller dentists to book an appointment today.

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