February is gum disease awareness month, and while many dental patients have struggled with some form of this disease, research indicates that millions of adults in the US currently have undiagnosed gum disease. This oral health condition, sometimes referred to as periodontal disease, occurs when plaque buildup at the gum line irritates, inflames, and breaks down supportive bone and soft tissue. There are two forms of gum disease – mild gingivitis and more advanced periodontitis. Left untreated, the condition impacts every level of oral and overall health. In honor of gum disease awareness month, we’re going to discuss warning signs, prevention methods, and how you can partner with your dentist in Greenbelt and Millersville to combat gum disease.
In 2009, the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) published a report with some startling statistics about gum disease, including:
- 2% of adults in the US, about 45 million people over 30, have gum disease
- 7% have mild gum disease (gingivitis)
- 5% have moderate to severe gum disease (periodontitis)
- In adults over the age of 65, that number of gum disease sufferers skyrockets to 70.1%
In addition to these startling statistics, the AAP continues to publish research that indicates there is a significant connection between gum disease and chronic and systemic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Many adults suffer from undiagnosed gum disease for years before they receive treatment, and this leads some people to think that means having gum disease doesn’t actually cause much damage to their oral and overall health. This is simply not the case. Because the symptoms of mild gum disease, gingivitis, are so subtle, many people suffer from the condition for years. Then, they seek treatment for gum disease in the most severe stages. If you notice any of the following warning signs of gum disease, it’s essential that you reach out to your dental office in Millersville or Greenbelt right away:
- Bleeding gums, especially while brushing or flossing teeth
- Discolored gum tissue, usually red, purple, or darkened coloring
- Inflammation, sores, or infection in the gums
- Teeth that feel loose or a bite that doesn’t fit together properly
- Chronic bad breath that isn’t improved with brushing or flossing
As is recommended with many oral health concerns, prevention is an essential aspect of reducing the number of patients struggling with gum disease. Some steps you can take to avoid gum disease include:
- Brush teeth at least two minutes at a time twice a day. Use a soft bristled toothbrush. Place the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle toward the gums as you brush in order to remove plaque at and below the gum line.
- Floss carefully at least once each day. Pay special attention to ensure both sides of each tooth or cleaned all the way to the gum line.
- If you struggle with gingivitis, ask your dentist about an antimicrobial mouth rinse that can help limit the number of plaque-producing oral bacteria that contribute to gum disease and reduce your risk for more advanced periodontitis.
- Make sure you visit your dentist twice a year. During these biannual dental appointments, the dentist will perform a screening called periodontal charting. This screening tool allows us to track any changes in the depth of the pockets between your teeth and gums, which often expand in the earliest stages of gum disease even before other symptoms are present.
Gum Disease Treatments
If you are struggling with gingivitis, we will likely provide tips to improve your at-home oral hygiene routine and schedule more frequent professional cleanings. For advanced gum disease, more complex treatments may be incorporated in addition to more frequent professional teeth cleanings and improved at-home oral hygiene. Some of the gum disease treatments that may be recommended include:
- Scaling – removal of plaque, tartar, and damaged tissue
- Root planing – smoothing roots of teeth to prevent plaque buildup
- Antibiotic treatment – oral or topical antibiotics may be prescribed to reduce the number of oral bacteria
Meet the McCarl Dental Group
If you’re a patient of McCarl Dental Group in Millersville or Greenbelt, our team of skilled dentists and dentistry professionals are here to help you achieve and maintain your healthiest teeth and gums. We believe that our best patients are those who understand their oral health, so we always take the time to explain any areas of concern we notice during checkups to help you stop dental decay, gum disease, and other conditions before they start. We also provide a range of dental treatment options to deliver beautiful smiles that last a lifetime. When you’re ready to get started, call McCarl Dental Group to schedule an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you soon!