Everyone wants a healthy mouth full of strong white teeth and pink gums. How can you tell that your gums and teeth are healthy? What are the most common dental problems that plague an otherwise healthy mouth? And how can you prevent or relieve those problems?
Preventing Gum Disease
A healthy gum line is pink with no pockets in between the teeth and gums. Our dentists agree that in order to keep your gums healthy and strong, you’ll want to add the following activities to your routine:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably when you get up in the morning and before going to bed at night. Actually, it’s ideal to brush after every meal if you have access to a sink. It’s a good idea to use toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Floss your teeth at least once a day to remove plaque from between your teeth.
- Rinse your mouth with bacteria-eliminating mouthwash after you brush. Believe it or not, there are a number of germs left in your mouth after brushing!
- Avoid sugary foods. Sugar feeds the bacteria that live in your mouth causing them to produce more acid, which puts you at a higher risk for cavities.
- Schedule a dentist appointment at least two times a year. Our dentists will thoroughly clean your teeth. They’ll also check for dental problems such as cavities and gum disease.
Diagnosing Gum Disease
There are two main types of gum disease: Gingivitis and Periodontitis.
- Gingivitis causes your gums to become red and swollen. They will often bleed during routine brushing and flossing. Since pain is not a common symptom associated with Gingivitis, many patients fail to get the treatment they need unless their dentist picks up on the symptoms during a routine dental exam.
- Periodontitis results when Gingivitis goes untreated. The most common symptom of this more advanced disease is gums that pull away or shrink back from the teeth. Bacteria can easily grow in these cracks and damage the bone below the gums. The loosened gum line can cause teeth to fall out, or the bacteria may cause infection, which will require your teeth to be pulled out by your dentist.
Treating Gum Disease
Once the dentist has diagnosed you with either Gingivitis or Periodontitis, it’s time to work on a treatment plan! Two treatment plans that don’t involve surgery include:
- A thorough and professional dental cleaning, which is done by our dental hygienist each time you have your teeth checked, preferably twice a year. The process includes scraping away plaque and tartar buildup in addition to a thorough brushing. If you have a history of gum disease, we may recommend more frequent visits to have your teeth professionally cleaned.
- Scaling and root planing is a second option that is common if the patient has plaque and tartar buildup underneath the gum line. The buildup underneath the gum line is scraped away and the tooth’s root is made smooth which allows the gum to reattach itself.
If our dentist feels that the disease has moved beyond the point of these nonsurgical solutions, he/she may recommend flap surgery (also called pocket reduction surgery), bone grafts, soft tissue grafts, guided tissue regeneration, or bone surgery to be performed by a cosmetic dentist.
Most of us agree that the very best option is to avoid gum disease altogether! Keep up with your brushing, flossing, and rinsing to ensure a healthy mouthful of teeth and pink gums. Also be sure to see your dentist for a thorough cleaning at least twice a year.