Dental hygiene is important for obtaining a sparkling smile, and also for the overall health of your mouth. Gum disease is one of the most common oral health challenges facing Canadian and Calgary adults today, and dentists agree that preventative maintenance and quality dental care are the most effective ways to stop problems before they start. Understanding what gum disease is, and why it occurs, is the first step.
Gum Disease: The Basics
Health Canada reports that there are no age limitations on who can get gum disease, and its symptoms often aren’t apparent until considerable damage has been done.
- As is often the case with oral health issues, gum disease begins with plaque, a yellow-ish, tacky substance known as “biofilm” that forms daily on your teeth and gums. Plaque contains bacteria, and causes all manner of problems when it’s not removed regularly, such as gingivitis and chronic periodontitis.
- Regular brushing and flossing should easily remove plaque, but with inadequate care plaque turns in to tartar, a hard, rough coating that can not be removed with regular at-home maintenance. Tartar is a common cause of chronic infection, and it also provides a ready-made surface where more plaque can easily build up.
- Smoking, poor nutrition habits, hormonal changes and even certain medications are other common risk factors for gum disease, especially with poor oral hygiene practices.
- When gum disease first appears, it’s called gingivitis. The early stages of gingivitis are characterized by red, swollen gums and minor bleeding, which gradually grows worse when left untreated.
- Gum disease at this stage is reversible with a dentist’s treatment and good oral hygiene. When gum disease is left untreated, though, many potential health problems are likely to arise.
Symptoms and Health Risks of Advanced Gum Disease
As gum disease progresses, its symptoms tend to become more acute. Gums may become swollen, painful, and discolored. You’re also more likely to experience noticeable bleeding when brushing, and even when eating certain hard foods. These are all signs that a more serious problem may lie beneath the surface.
- Advanced gum disease attacks the teeth, bones, and structures that hold them together. This means that in addition to loose and lost teeth, gum disease can also cause unpleasant symptoms like bad breath.
- Gum disease at this stage may also cause severe discomfort, and even the development of painful abscesses. Pain and lost teeth make it difficult to eat properly, which can compound other health problems.
- Health Canada warns that diabetic patients are more likely to experience gum disease. Gum disease, in turn, can also worsen potential diabetes-related health risks.
How to Keep Your Gums Healthy
The long-term effects of gum disease are frightening, but they’re also totally avoidable. In the end, good oral hygiene really is your mouth’s best defense! Just follow these simple steps to keep your gums healthy and happy.
- Brush and floss daily to get rid of pesky plaque before it can wreak its havoc. For best results, Health Canada suggests that you brush at least twice a day for at least two minutes each time. Floss at least once per day to clean those hard-to-reach, hard-to-see areas between teeth.
- Examine your teeth and gums on a regular basis. By keeping track of how your mouth looks when healthy, you’ll be better prepared to spot any changes that may indicate potential trouble.
- Manage your overall health by eating healthy, exercising regularly and avoiding gum disease risk factors like tobacco use.
- Schedule regular check-ups with your dental professional, and be sure to report anything unusual that you’ve noticed since your last visit. Calgary dentists will identify issues you may have missed, and help you develop a plan of action for maintaining great oral hygiene.
The most important thing to remember about gum disease is that it’s far easier to prevent in its early stages than it is to treat in its later stages. Even if you haven’t been diligent about oral hygiene in the past, there’s still time to make a positive difference in your oral health. With a team of friendly, knowledgeable professionals in the Calgary downtown, dentists Dr. Loreen Wong Dr. Darryl Burgess are equipped to handle any oral health challenge and help keep and your family smiling for many years.