September is nearly over! Fall is right around the corner. It's National Gum Care Month, and it's a great time to brush up on routines that can keep our mouths clean and healthy. A simple action is very beneficial to our oral health and overall wellness, brushing teeth. However, skipping out on a good oral hygiene routine can cause many problems down the line. Especially choosing not to go to the dentist for checkups. That always leaves us with unnoticed issues until it's too late. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is a lifelong commitment that everyone should enact. What could happen if we don't take the proper oral care of our mouth and gums?
According to the National Institute of Health, our mouths can carry up to 700 strains of bacteria. So, what happens when bacteria are left to linger inside our mouths? Well, it happily feeds on the sugar from the food and drinks that we consume daily. But, unfortunately, bacteria also like to break down tooth enamel, which makes the enamel weaker and leads to tooth decay. Tooth decay and cavities are some of the most common health problems, but this can also lead to gum disease.
Our gums are not supposed to bleed when we brush or floss our teeth. If that does happen, you may have gum disease. Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums that, when left untreated, can deteriorate the jawbone supporting our teeth. Gum disease starts because of the bacteria that form and stays on teeth. If the bacteria are not removed daily with brushing and flossing, the plaque builds up, and the bacteria starts infecting the gums and teeth. Bacteria buildup left untreated, teeth will eventually begin to fall out or will require professional extraction. There are three stages of gum disease: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis.
- Gingivitis - Early gum disease: This is the earliest stage of gum disease. If plaque builds up at the gum line, it will cause inflammation, and the gums can become swollen and red. In addition, plaque buildup can irritate the gum tissue that is around teeth, which causes gingivitis. At this early stage of gum disease, you might notice bleeding gums after brushing or while flossing. If caught early enough, Dr. Polin can cure this stage of gum disease.
- Periodontitis - Moderate Gum Disease: This is the second stage of gum disease. The tissue and the bone that holds teeth in place are damaged. When bacteria stay on teeth long enough, plaque builds up, turning into tartar, and tartar is a lot harder to clean off of our teeth. Periodontitis heavily recedes the gums at this stage of gum disease, and tooth loss is imminent unless treated.
- Advanced Periodontitis - Acute Gum Disease: This is the final and severest stage of gum disease. At this point, the tissue and the bone that hold our teeth in place well deteriorate. In addition, the gum tissue has pulled away from teeth, creating pockets for even more bacteria to build up and cause further damage and infections. When this happens, it's common for teeth to get dislodged and fall out.
How to Stop Gum Disease
Now, the best way to stop gum disease is to prevent it from starting. Brushing and flossing twice per day and using fluoride toothpaste is the best we can do at home to keep gum disease from developing. However, if symptoms of gum disease are already present, visiting a dentist or a periodontist, a dentist specializing in gum disease, is the best option for getting back on a healthy track. When you come in for a perio appointment, the first step is a consultation exam to develop the best treatment options to fit your needs. Treatment may include nonsurgical or surgical methods.
- Nonsurgical Treatments: Some nonsurgical treatments can help the early stages of gum disease. Nonsurgical treatment includes deep cleaning, where scaling and root planing remove plaque and tartar from below the gum line.
- Surgical Treatments: Some of the surgical treatments periodontists can perform to help with gum disease include bone grafting, flap surgery, and tissue regeneration.
So far, we've talked about oral care and what could happen if we don't take the time to care for our teeth properly. As adults, we know this, but what about kids and teens? They need to know what they can do to take care of their teeth and gums. While conversations with your children and their health will vary by age, here are the best examples of what to share and demonstrate with them at home:
- Brush their teeth twice a day
- Floss daily
- See the dentist at least twice a year
- Eat healthy meals
- Be mindful with sugary drinks and snacks
Doctors say that the mouth is the gateway to overall health, so we should protect it as much as possible. However, practicing good dental health doesn't start at the dentist's office. It begins with us. Us taking care of our teeth at home is where the real magic happens. Maintaining a consistent oral hygiene routine is a lifelong commitment that we can all commit to, and it's OK to re-commit as well.
The Team at POLIN DENTAL wish you a
Happy National Gum Care Month!