February 11, 2019
Most people are aware of how important it is to take care of their teeth, but are surprised to hear that their gums are just as important! Since February is Gum Disease Awareness Month, it’s a great time to learn how your gums affect both your smile and overall health. Although gum disease is incredibly common and affects an estimated 65 million Americans, the good news is that gum disease therapy in Fairhope can treat it and improve the health of both your smile and body. Learn more below!
What Are the Effects of Gum Disease?
Gum disease affects your oral health and overall health in different ways. In terms of dental health, it’s the leading cause of tooth loss.
Tooth loss occurs in advanced stages of the disease when it’s destroyed the supportive structures that keep your teeth in place (the gum tissue and underlying bone). When these structures are lost, the teeth become loose and fall out.
As for your overall health, researchers have found overwhelming evidence that gum disease increases the risk of:
- Heart disease
- Pregnancy complications
- Some cancers
Studies are still being done to learn more about the link between the gums and rest of the body, but it’s thought that bacteria is a key factor.
Plaque and tartar are mainly made of bacteria, which can accumulate under the gumline. Once there, this bacteria easily enters the bloodstream and travels throughout the entire body, causing inflammation and other problems.
What Symptoms Should You Look For?
The best way to get an accurate idea of your gum health is to schedule a checkup, which includes a gum evaluation. However, there are signs and symptoms to keep an eye out for at home:
- Bleeding gums after brushing or flossing
- Tender or swollen gums
- Chronic bad breath
- Pain when chewing
- Loose teeth (in advanced stages)
How Can Gum Disease Therapy Help?
Fortunately, there are several types of gum disease therapy, including:
- Scaling and root planing – Also called a “deep cleaning,” this involves being numbed beforehand for comfort so that tartar and bacteria can be thoroughly removed from under the gumline. The roots of your teeth are also smoothed to prevent bacteria from re-accumulating. It’s typically done in 2-4 appointments.
- Antibiotic therapy – Antibiotics can be used to directly target one of the main factors in gum disease: bacteria.
- Periodontal maintenance – This procedure is a special kind of “maintenance cleaning” for patients with gum disease. It’s often recommended on 3, 4 or 6-month intervals.
In addition, seeing a dentist every 6 months for checkups will greatly reduce your risk of gum disease. These visits are a chance to have it diagnosed and treated in the early stages when therapy is the most effective.
About the Author
Dr. Drew Knight is a general, cosmetic and restorative dentist in Fairhope and a graduate of the University of Alabama School of Dentistry. He always carefully monitors his patients’ gum health so he can either prevent the development of gum disease or treat it as early as possible. If you have any other questions about your gums, he can be reached via his website.
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