If you think your oral health or lack thereof is confined to your mouth, think again. In what is known as the mouth-body connection, oral health issues can extend beyond the mouth and affect other systems of the body. Likewise, certain medical conditions, or the medications taken for them, can increase your risk of developing dental problems. Gum disease, also called periodontal disease or periodontitis, can increase your risk of developing heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as delivering a premature or low birth weight baby. Periodontal disease is not curable, but treatment can help eliminate inflammation and prevent it from progressing. If gum disease is left untreated, the tissues that support the teeth, including the gums, periodontal ligaments, and jawbone, will deteriorate and cause tooth loss.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Sometimes your gums may bleed or feel painful if you brush or floss too aggressively. However, if gum disease is the culprit, your symptoms will persist and worsen over time. Swollen, sensitive gums that are deep red or purple in color, combined with foul breath, are clear signs of periodontitis. In the more advanced stages, gums will recede, pus will form in the periodontal pockets, and your teeth will start to loosen because their supporting structures begin to deteriorate.

Preventing Periodontal Disease

The best way to ensure you do not fall victim to the number-one cause of tooth loss in America is to prevent gum disease from occurring in the first place. Therefore, you must maintain meticulous oral hygiene at home to ensure that plaque and oral bacteria are properly cleaned from your teeth and gums. Part two of prevention is to see your dentist at Modern Dental Healthat a minmum of every six months for a checkup and cleaning. Some patients may need to be seen more often at 3, and 4 month intervals. At your appointment, we will examine your gums to determine the effectiveness of your at-home hygiene and educate you on proper cleaning techniques if necessary. We will also remove any tartar present on your teeth, which forms when plaque is left behind after insufficient brushing. Tartar is the hard substance that causes your gums to separate from the teeth, and it can only be removed by your hygienist with a dental tool.

Treating Gum Disease

If periodontal disease is spotted at your checkup, even at the earliest stage called gingivitis, we can perform a deep cleaning called scaling and root planing. Gum disease causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets that collect bacteria. A deep cleaning removes the debris that collects in this space, in addition to smoothing out the tooth surface above and below the gum line. A tooth surface that is polished is less likely to collect plaque, which will allow your inflamed gum tissues to heal and reattach to the teeth. In many cases, a scaling and root planing will eliminate your symptoms, but more advanced cases of gum disease may require the use of antibiotics or antimicrobial rinses.

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