Did you know half of all Americans aged 30 and up suffer from advanced periodontal disease? According to the American Academy of Periodontology, this equates to over 64 million adults. To avoid becoming part of this startling statistic, you must learn how to detect, treat and prevent early-stage periodontal disease.
Detecting Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, can be difficult to detect because it often develops slowly and painlessly. Unless you see your dentist for regular check-ups, you may not even realize you have progressive gum disease until it's too late. At its most advanced stage, periodontal disease destroys your gum tissue and jawbone to the point of irreversible tooth loss.
Warning signs of gum disease include:
- Bleeding from gums when brushing or flossing
- Red, swollen gums
- Chronic bad breath
- Receding gums that make your teeth appear larger than before
- Loose teeth
- Pus pockets between teeth and gums
Detecting early gum disease can actually save your life. In fact, studies show gum disease can be a strong risk factor for serious medical conditions, like heart attack and stroke.
Treating Early Gum Disease
Early detection of gum disease is crucial for avoiding tooth loss. Gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, is reversible because it only affects the gum tissue. However, if you ignore it, a simple case of gingivitis can progressively become worse, leading to advanced-stage periodontal disease.
In order to diagnose and treat early gum disease, you must visit your dentist for a check-up and dental cleaning. During your visit, your dentist will measure the depth of the periodontal pockets between your teeth and gums, as well as examine x-rays of your mouth to identify possible bone loss. This allows your dentist to determine how far the gum disease has advanced.
To treat early gum disease, your dental hygienist will remove the tarter and plaque from your periodontal pockets. Beyond that, it is up to you to take preventative measures so it doesn't return.
Preventing Gum Disease
To prevent gum disease from destroying your teeth and gums, there are several preventative measures you can take:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Floss teeth daily
- Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash every day
- Get a professional dental check-up every six months (or as directed by your dentist)
- Don't smoke or use chewing tobacco
- Eat a balanced diet to boost your mouth's resistance to bacterial plaque and infection
It is also a good idea to let your dentist review a list of all medications you take each day. Some drugs reduce saliva production which can contribute to periodontal disease.
Early gum disease is easy to treat and prevent. As long as you see your dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene, your teeth and gums should stay healthy and strong.