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Celebrate National Gum Care Month with Healthier Smiles

September 3, 2019 in Dentistry by mccarl_dental
Dental hygienist treating dental patient

September is National Gum Care Month. Year-round, we promote preventive dentistry for our Greenbelt dental patients to avoid the majority of oral health concerns, including gum disease, but this month dedicated to increasing awareness is a great time to review some of the basics of achieving and maintaining optimal oral health. In this blog, we discuss the importance of healthy gums and some simple ways to avoid gum disease through preventive dental care at-home and in our Greenbelt dental office.

What is the Role of the Gums in Maintaining Healthy Smiles?

When we talk about oral health, most people think about their teeth. While caring for teeth is essential, maintaining gum health is also very important. In fact, gum disease is actually the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. The gums are a significant part of maintaining oral health.

At a deep level, the health of the gums controls the fate of the specialized bone that supports your teeth. This specialized bone supports your teeth, keeping them anchored into the jawbone and ensuring your smile remains intact and aligned.

On a surface level, the gum covers the tooth’s roots, reducing dental sensitivity and decreasing risk for decay and damage accessing the inner layers of the tooth (pulp). This can lead to severe pain and the need for an advanced dental procedure called a root canal. Finally, cosmetically, gum tissue helps to create and maintain a full, youthful facial shape.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a common oral health condition that occurs when bacterial plaque buildup on teeth irritates soft tissue. Over time, the connective soft tissue is broken down by the acidic plaque, creating larger pockets between the teeth and gums and allowing for increased plaque buildup. Without proper care, gum disease can allow teeth to shift out of alignment, and in some cases, tooth loss occurs.

How do I Know I have Gum Disease?

In order to be certain that you’re suffering from gum disease, you’ll need an examination and diagnosis from a skilled dentist and their dental hygienist. However, you should talk to your dentist or hygienist about gum disease if you notice any of these warning signs:

  • Red/purple, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Gum line that seems to recede or teeth that look longer
  • Pain or tenderness in the gums
  • Infection in the gums (pus or white pimple-like sores)
  • Teeth that shift or a bite that doesn’t seem to fit together the same way

How Common is Gum Disease?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), periodontal disease is very common. Some of the most startling statistics include:

  • 50% of U.S. adults over 30 have some form of gum disease – that’s about 65 million people.
  • This number increases to more than 70% in U.S. adults over the age of 65.
  • Men are more likely to have gum disease, making up about 67% of reported cases.
  • About 64% of those diagnosed with gum disease were self-reported as smokers.

How do I Avoid Gum Disease?

There is no way to completely reverse the damage of advanced gum disease after it occurs, but this condition can be prevented in many cases. To maintain the optimal level of oral health and avoid gum disease, we recommend the following:

  • Brush teeth for at least two minutes at a time twice a day
  • Use fluoridated toothpaste
  • Floss teeth at least once a day
  • Avoid brushing or flossing over-aggressively as this can cause damage to the soft tissue
  • If you are susceptible to gum disease, your dentist may recommend an antimicrobial oral rinse to reduce the number of plaque-producing oral bacteria

Meet the McCarl Dental Group

At McCarl Dental Group, our team of skilled dentists and hygienists are committed to helping every patient we treat achieve and maintain their healthiest smiles. Whether you’re brand new to our Greenbelt dental office or you’ve been a member of our dentistry family for years, we’ll be happy to answer all of your questions about gum disease and how to keep your smile healthy for life. Call our team today to learn more about gum disease or schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable family dentists in Greenbelt.

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