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Posted on: September 7, 2022
September Is Gum Care Awareness Month in the U.S.
Your gums are the soft tissue surrounding your teeth at their base. They provide a secure seal around the teeth that helps keep out harmful bacteria, food particles and other unwanted elements. They also provide part of the supporting structure of tissues and jawbone that help keep the teeth fixed in their positions. Your gums help ensure you have a solid bite for chewing food and they support your immune system in preventing damage and disease.
Make your appointment for a dental visit in Owings Mills today! Don’t delay in getting the care you need.
What Gum Disease Is
Gum disease is when the gums become irritated, inflamed, or infected. When this happens the disease progresses through several stages, from mild to severe.
The earliest stage of gum disease is also, unsurprisingly, its mildest form. Most cases of gingivitis are caused by improper oral hygiene. When gingivitis occurs, the gums start bleeding easily and turn swollen and red.
There is typically no pain or discomfort in this phase, which is why so many people who have gingivitis don’t even know it. However, it is also at this stage when you have the most personal power and ability to correct it, especially if you have a dentist helping you. So, it benefits you greatly to keep on the lookout for any of these telltale signs.
When gingivitis persists without getting treated, it worsens, developing into periodontitis. At this stage, the redness and swelling may increase and spread, and the gums may start becoming tender or sore.
When gingivitis becomes periodontitis, the plaque and bacteria spread from the surface of the gums surrounding the teeth to the layers of gums beneath the gum line. There, they release toxins that irritate the gums and stimulate a chronic inflammatory response. Now, the body’s own immune system has, in essence, turned on itself and starts breaking down bone and tissues and destroying them in order to eliminate the perceived threat.
At this stage, the disease may also have migrated to the bone and connective tissue providing the supporting structures for the teeth. When this occurs, the gums can pull back from the teeth, or recede, leaving pockets behind. These pockets collect food particles, plaque and other debris that, then, sit there and rot, causing further infection and decay. As the disease worsens, these pockets get ever deeper, destroying ever more gum tissue and bone, exposing the tooth roots and causing painful cavities. At this stage of advanced periodontitis, teeth can ultimately loosen and even fall out or need removal.
As the plaque remains on the teeth and gums, it hardens into calculus, or tartar, which you cannot remove through simple brushing and flossing. Now, you’ll need a dentist to provide a deep cleaning and possibly other treatments as well to remove the tartar, eliminate the bacteria, reverse as much of the damage as possible, and restore a healthy mouth.
Whether you’re facing gum disease right now or simply want to prevent it from ever happening, we can help. Call us to schedule a dental cleaning or checkup and get the help you need protecting your gums, whatever their current shape.
Preventing and Treating Gum Disease
The way to prevent gum disease is simple: practice good oral hygiene. That includes following a basic but thorough daily dental care routine and visiting your dentist in Owings Mills for regular dental cleanings and checkups.
The way to treat gum disease could be a bit more complex, depending on how advanced the disease has progressed.
Preventing and Treating Gingivitis
To treat gingivitis, examine your daily dental care habits. Do you have a daily dental care routine? If not, start one. If so, take a look at how you can improve it to better care for your gums.
You should be brushing your teeth two times a day at least and flossing once. When you brush, you should make sure to brush your gums in addition to your teeth, and get both the insides and outsides. Brush your tongue as well, top and bottom, because bacteria collects there too. You should be using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste. If your toothbrush is older than one to three months or the bristles have begun to fray, trade it out for a fresh one. Avoid covering your toothbrush in between uses or storing it in a closed container, as these can encourage microorganisms to grow.
These steps are also how you prevent gingivitis from forming in the first place.
Ways you can boost your personal oral care beyond these basics include quitting smoking or chewing tobacco and eating a diet lower in sugars and higher in vegetables and whole grains.
Preventing and Treating Periodontitis
Adhering to a thorough daily dental care routine will also help the effectiveness of the treatments your dentist in Owings Mills gives you for more serious gum disease.
These treatments may include an antiseptic mouthwash or prescription mouth rinse. These contain antimicrobial and antibacterial agents that help kill bacteria lingering in the mouth even after a brushing or professional cleaning. These can be particularly useful for people who have difficulties carrying out certain elements of routine oral care due to impairments of age or other special needs. Your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to help kill the harmful bacteria in your mouth.
If periodontitis has advanced to the degree in which the infection is beneath the gum line or affecting the underlying bone and connective tissue, the dentist may need to perform one or more procedures to clean out the infection from those areas. These deep cleaning procedures include scaling, root planing and root canals.
In a procedure called flap surgery, the dentist numbs the gums before lifting them back in order to expose the hidden areas of teeth beneath them. Then, the dentist cleans those areas well and sometimes even reshapes the bone before repositioning the gums so there are no longer pockets between them and the teeth and the seal is once again secured.
Call us to schedule an appointment for a dental cleaning and exam in Owings Mills, and prevent serious gum disease from taking root in your mouth.