One of the most common adult diseases also is one of the most preventable.
Your Asheville dentist tells you to schedule a visit every six months. You rail against the advice with a myriad of excuses, but none is good enough — not really. When it comes to your health, you need to take the simple steps required to prevent periodontal disease, more commonly referred to as gum disease.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that most adults develop some form of gum disease during their lives. How bad you get it depends on a number of factors, not the least of which is how often you get professional dental cleanings. Gum disease ranges from simple inflammation to more serious symptoms — complications that lead to major damage to the bone and soft tissues supporting your teeth. At worst, you can lose your teeth to periodontal disease.
Let Your Asheville Dentist Look for Signs
While there are some very clear, distinctive symptoms you can’t help but see when you have gum disease, your Asheville dentist can spot the very beginnings of the disease during your biannual checkup. It’s during these times that your dental team is on the lookout for the seven common signals:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums, even when brushing and flossing
- Tender, painful gums when chewing
- Gums pulling away from your teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- False teeth and dentures don’t fit properly
- Loosening teeth
To check for gum disease, your Asheville dentist:
- Takes a complete medical history, looking for risk factors
- Probes your gums to search for pockets
- Closely examines your mouth for early warning signs
- Takes X-rays to check below your gum line
Cause and Effect
Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque. Plaque is made from bacteria, mucus and other foreign particles. It forms a sticky substance on your teeth and gums that eventually turns into a harder form called tartar. While brushing eliminates most plaque, some of it must be removed professionally when you visit your Asheville dentist.
Gum disease usually doesn’t show up until you are in your 30s or 40s, although teenagers can develop a mild form called gingivitis. You may be at greater risk for periodontal disease if you fall into one of the following risk categories:
- You are a smoker.
- You have diabetes or some other immune disorder.
- You are undergoing hormonal changes.
- You take medications that give you a dry mouth.
- You are genetically prone to the disease.
See Something, Say Something
As one of the most preventable diseases around, you should talk to your Asheville dentist and his team of professional hygienists about your concerns if you suspect you have symptoms of gum disease. Untreated, gum disease can lead to heart disease and blood sugar abnormalities.
Gum disease treatments may consist of deep root planing and scaling, while medications and surgery are also options. Prevention, therefore, is the easiest way to deal with your periodontal symptoms. The best prevention consists of:
- Brushing and flossing daily
- Biannual dental cleanings and check-ups
- Giving up cigarettes
—Your Ashville dentist