If you think back over your dental office visits, you will probably remember your dentist or hygienist scraping around and under your gum line. This cleaning is not just an effort to prevent cavities on the areas of your teeth below your gums. Rather, your dental professionals are attempting to keep your gums in good shape.
Periodontal care is just as important as care for your teeth. The word periodontal means “around the teeth,” and usually refers to the gums.
Consequences of Gum Disease
You have probably heard about gum disease, sometimes called gingivitis and periodontitis, from sources like mouthwash advertisements. Those ads are rarely exaggerated. Gum disease is a serious problem and is rampant among Canadians. This disease can worsen quickly and may lead to tooth loss, diminishment of underlying bone in the jaw, and infection.
In fact, gum infections can spread and become systemic. When this happens, it is particularly dangerous to people with weakened immune systems, those with prosthetic heart valves, and diabetics.
Signs of Gum Disease
Almost everyone has brushed too vigorously at one time or another and elicited some gum bleeding. But if bleeding is frequent or copious, you may have some degree of gum disease. Other symptoms of gum disease include pain and colour changes in your gums.
Addressing Gum Disease
Naturally, the best way to fight gum disease is never to encounter it in the first place. The problem is caused by plaque buildup around and beneath the gums. Brushing twice daily, flossing at least once every 24 hours, and using an antiseptic mouthwash every day will go a long way toward preventing gum inflammation and disease.
However, no matter how vigilant you are with your daily oral care routine, you cannot neglect professional cleanings and examinations. Be sure to visit your dentist every six months, and you can check this item off your list. Also, do not hesitate to make a dental appointment at the first sign of gum disease as mentioned above.
If your dentist does find gum disease or inflammation, they can usually address the problem with cleaning. Sometimes a “deep clean” called a scaling and root planing is necessary. This procedure thoroughly cleans beneath the gum line, removing plaque from the roots of the teeth. In rare cases, gum disease may be severe enough that you need to visit a periodontist for specialised care. However, you can prevent this outcome with diligent daily care and regular dental office visits.