Did you know that CDC has the statistic that gum disease affects HALF of the adult population in America older than 30 years old? For the population that doesn’t have it- gum disease isn’t taken as seriously as it deserves, which may be why it becomes so common as people age. Some questions such as: “What IS gum disease? What are the signs? How do I prevent it? What are my treatment options?” are the questions we SHOULD be researching properly and educating ourselves with. Afterall- we enjoy having good oral health, right?
Gum disease (Periodontal Disease) is when your mouth starts growing bacteria (primarily from plaque buildup) causing destruction to your gums all around your teeth and can result in losing those teeth if given the chance! The beginning stage is called Gingivitis, which is basically just gum inflammation and it causes your gums to be sensitive and bleed during brushing and flossing. Even though this is a sign of the beginning stages of gum disease- Gingivitis doesn’t always lead to gum disease. However, the sooner you catch it the better- as with anything that involves your health. So, if you start experiencing these symptoms- it’s time to call your dentist and make your appointment.
The more severe stage is the actual disease itself- Periodontitis. This is when the bacteria have grown out of control in between the pockets of your teeth and release toxins produced by your body’s enzymes fighting the bacteria. This poison released will start to deteriorate the connective tissue and bone all around your teeth making your teeth loosen and eventually causing them to fall out. This is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
Now that we know what we are dealing with here, we need to know how to prevent it. Luckily, when caught soon enough, Gingivitis can be reversed! Since we know that gum disease is primarily from plaque buildup, all we have to do is keep the plaque away. This isn’t anything different than what your dentist recommends for your daily routine of brushing, flossing, and going in for your 2-time-a-year cleanings. Having a good antibacterial mouthwash can make a difference in the formation of this disease as well.
If Gingivitis has progressed into Periodontitis already, the plan of action would be to encourage the reattachment of your gums back to your teeth and lessen the depths of pockets, swelling, and possibilities of infection. There are a number of treatment option depending on your general health and what stage in the disease you are in. Here’s a list of options starting from lease invasive to surgery options:
- Professional Dental Cleaning
- Scaling and Root Planing.
- Flap Surgery/Pocket Reduction Surgery.
- Guided Tissue Regeneration
- Bone Surgery
- Soft Tissue Graft
- Bone Graft
As you can see, other than your routine 2x a year cleaning- Scaling and Root Planing is the only other non-invasive option for gum disease treatment. This should drastically change peoples minds about how serious this is. Once your gums are deemed unhealthy, non-surgical treatments are no longer an option.
In summary, gum disease can have a detrimental affect on your quality of life, not only that but the money that is poured into the treatment options can add up and take away from you being able to spend it on the things you love! Let’s spread awareness and keep each other accountable for our oral health- 50% of adults over 30 is too big of a percentage for something that is this destructive to our oral health. Taking 10 minutes a day to brush and floss and 2 hours a year to go get your routine cleaning done can mean preventing a lot of time, money, and pain being wasted on something this easy to avoid.