Learning to Predict (and Prevent) Gum Disease
Periodontal disease is one of the most frightening villains of the dental world. This infection of the gums can lead to massive changes in your smile and oral health, and even tooth loss. When it comes to periodontitis, the best plan is total prevention. How can you fine-tune your oral hygiene and spot the warning signs? By getting educated. Read on for some periodontal tips and tricks.
Why Watch for Periodontal Disease? Elkhart Dentist Responds
As we mentioned in the introduction, periodontal disease can be a savage beast. The full extent of its damage can include the loss of one or more teeth, and destruction of the jaw bone. Periodontal disease is not only harmful, it's downright sinister. The disease can be hard to spot in its early stages, during which time it will wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. Learning how to tell whether disease is creeping in will keep you on the offensive.
Early Signs of Gum Infection
Gingivitis is the first phase of gum disease, and it is gum inflammation. Inflammation is fairly simple to spot, but it's not a tell unless it's accompanied by some other symptoms. It's also incredibly common - over 50% of the American adult population has gingivitis. If you notice that your gums are swollen, check for these other symptoms:
- Red or purple tissue
- Gums that bleed when touched or brushed
- Pain ranging from dull to sharp, emanating from your teeth or gums
- Spaces forming between teeth and gums
- Receding or changing gum line
- Loose-feeling teeth that have separated from gums
- A changing bite
- Pus or sores in the mouth
- Persistent bad breath
Early detection of gum disease is so beneficial to the patient's outcome. A recent study has posited a way to predict gum disease severity based on the patient's genetics. This could indicate when more aggressive treatment is the best course of action, even before disease has caused significant damage to the jaw bone. This level of prevention is what we hope for in every patient's case. Staying vigilant and paying attention to what your gums are telling you will allow you to stop gum disease in its tracks.
Are You High-Risk When It Comes to Gum Disease?
Higher-risk patients will need to take extra precautions. While your genetic makeup can leave you more susceptible to infection, it's not the top offender; in fact, the worst risk factor is completely preventable. It's tobacco use. Smokers and tobacco chewers have a much higher chance of developing gum disease, and of seeing serious changes to their teeth and gums. Kicking the tobacco habit will benefit both your mouth and your entire body.
The primary cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. Like tobacco use, it's also entirely preventable. Simply embrace your brushing and flossing to see healthy gums today and well into the future. Flossing is especially important, as it reaches areas of the mouth that your toothbrush can't access (and removes bacteria from the gum line). If you are predisposed toward gum disease, adding a mouthwash to your hygiene regimen is a wise plan.
Seeing your dentist often is another good one. Schedule your next dental exam today to ensure your gums are healthy and happy.