According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of adults in the U.S. have gum disease, and a lot of those men and women wind up losing at least one tooth – and often several – as a result. In fact, the National institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) reports gum disease or periodontal disease
is the leading cause of tooth loss among American adults. If you’re over 65, your chances of developing gum disease are even higher – the CDC report says about three out of every four older Americans has gum disease.
Nobody likes to think about losing their teeth, and the good news is, there are things you can do – simple things – to help prevent gum disease and preserve your oral health. But first, you need to understand a little bit about periodontal disease and how and why it develops.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is an inflammatory disease that occurs when bacteria from plaque lodge below the gum line and in and around the tooth roots, producing toxins that eventually cause the gums to pull away from the teeth. As a result, the roots become weakened and teeth are far more likely to fall out.
In the first stages of gum disease – gingivitis – you may notice signs like red, swollen or irritated gums or your gums may bleed when you brush your teeth. You may also notice your gums receding so more of your teeth are exposed. Many people overlook these early warning signs, allowing their disease to progress to the more serious stage of gum disease called periodontitis. At this stage, teeth begin to loosen and can eventually fall out, creating a need for dental implants.
Preventing Gum Disease
Preventing gum disease is important for your teeth, but it’s also important for your overall health as well. Here are five simple steps to take right now that can help ensure your gums stay as healthy as possible:
- Brush and floss: The best way to prevent gum disease is to brush and floss regularly, but to get the best effects, you need to be sure you’re doing both correctly so you eliminate bacteria at the gum line and between teeth without harming the gums themselves.
- Have regular checkups: Seeing a periodontist regularly is critical for adults since a periodontist has been trained to identify the early signs of gum disease even before they cause symptoms.
- Stop smoking: Smoking decreases circulation that helps keep gums healthy, and it’s also a primary contributor to gum disease.
- Watch what you eat: Eating a balanced diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals is important to keep the gum tissue healthy so it can support your teeth and ward off disease. Avoiding sugary snacks is also important since the bacteria that cause gum disease thrive on sugar.
- Chew sugar-free gum: When you can’t brush after a meal, chewing sugar-free gum can help promote the production of saliva so tiny food particles can be cleared away and your mouth’s healthy environment can be restored.
What if I lose a tooth?
Tooth loss can have an impact on the way you talk and chew, and it can certainly have a big impact on your self-confidence. Plus, even the loss of a single tooth can cause a “cascade” effect that can result in the loss of more teeth. Fortunately, there are solutions for tooth loss. Dentures are one of the most common solutions and often one of the most affordable, but they can be cumbersome and uncomfortable. Today, many people opt for dental implants, which function just like your natural teeth and are just as easy to take care of.
Seeing a periodontist is one of the most important steps in preventing gum disease. As the leading periodontist in Nashville TN, the Advanced Institute for Oral Health will make sure your gums are as healthy as possible, and will help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted. Call (615)-370-9486 today to schedule your evaluation, or to request more information.