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    • 07 AUG 18
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    Combatting the Effects of Gum Disease

    Close-up view of a patient that has gingivitis that is turning into full-blown gum disease.

    Did you know that there is a disease that plagues half of all American adults? It’s called gum disease, and it is completely preventable with the right knowledge. Many people think that brushing and flossing the teeth is only important for avoiding cavities. However, when people neglect these habits or do them improperly, they can end up with gum disease. Find out how you can combat its effects if you already have it!

     

    It All Starts with Gingivitis

    Gum disease is a disease that you can get rid of with hard work and dedication to taking care of your teeth. It all starts with gingivitis, which is a stage of the disease you can correct by upping your game with oral hygiene.

     

    Gingivitis happens when plaque sits along your gum line, irritating your gums. You get that plaque when you eat foods with sugar in them. That sugar mixes with some of your mouth bacteria and creates a sticky substance (plaque) that sits along your gum line. Because plaque is acidic, your gums get irritated touching it. This can cause them to turn red, inflamed, swollen and to bleed easier (especially with flossing). You want to visit the dentist if you notice these changes in your gums and be extra careful with brushing and flossing. Gum disease in the gingivitis stage can be reversed.

     

    However, if you do nothing and your gum disease worsens, it can destroy your smile. Eventually, your gums will try to get away from acidic plaque on the teeth, so they will start to pull back—or recede—exposing your tooth root. That exposure will be painful for you when your tooth comes in contact with air, foods and drinks. Over time, your teeth can recede enough that your teeth start to fall out and your gums become too mushy to hold dental implants. That’s why it’s best to combat gum disease in it’s beginning stages.

     

    Very close-up view of a person's four front teeth with gum disease in their gums.

    The Statistics Are Shocking

    How prevalent is gum disease? Take a look:

    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 1/2 of all American adults have gum disease. That equates to about 64.7 million American adults.
    • 8.7% of Americans have mild gum disease (gingivitis), while 30% have moderate and 8.5% have severe gum disease (which brings tooth loss).
    • People with diabetes are 3X more likely to get gum disease.
    • Gingivitis and even gum disease is common in children, which can lead to early tooth loss.
    • Gum disease is 100% avoidable, but hard to combat if it progresses too far.

     

    How Should You Avoid It?

    Prevention is always the best medicine when it comes to gum disease. You can do that through excellent brushing and flossing. The American Dental Association recommends that every person brush their teeth for 2 minutes, twice a day. That is a baseline recommendation, as brushing your teeth after every meal will help you avoid tooth decay and oral diseases even more. Make sure you always brush with a soft-bristled brush, using toothpaste, and making sure that you get all your tooth surfaces.

     

    Flossing is no less important when it comes to avoiding gum disease. If you skip flossing, studies show that you skip cleaning about 40% of your tooth surfaces. That leaves all those surfaces open for decay and disease! Floss 1-2 times a day, making sure to get up in your gum line in between the teeth. Use your floss to scrape your teeth gently as you move the floss towards the end of your tooth. If you have trouble with plaque sticking to your teeth, you can even gently scrape it from your gumline with a cloth or toothbrush. The more plaque you have along your gum line, the more susceptible you will be to gum disease.

     

    View of a patient having their gums checked by a dentist.

    Cut Down On Your Sugar

    Remember how we said that prevention is the best medicine? You can significantly lower the amount of plaque your mouth makes if you are conscious about what you eat. Studies show that Americans are eating several day’s worth of sugar just with breakfast. That’s not counting sugar eaten the rest of the day. The more sugar you eat, the more plaque your mouth makes, and the more that will sit along your gum line. If you have a diet high in sugar and starchy foods (breads, pastas, pastries, etc.), then it won’t be a surprise if you are also having oral health problems.

     

    Switch out your sugary breakfast cereals for sugar-free food items such as eggs or sugar-free yogurt. Skip snacking in between meals and opt for snacks that are healthy (such as nuts and grain items) instead of candy bars or juices. If you drink sodas, coffee, energy drinks and juices, consider switching to water or milk during the day. Public water sources contain fluoride that can strengthen your teeth and milk has minerals that can remineralize your teeth during the day. If you want to combat the effects of gum disease, your diet is a major part of it.

     

    What Can We Do?

    By the time many patients realize something is wrong, the gum disease might be far along. First, we recommend that every patient visit the dentist at least twice a year for dental cleanings and comprehensive examinations. We can spot the signs of gingivitis and gum disease early-on, meaning you don’t have to suffer tooth loss.

     

    For patients with gum disease that has progressed significantly, we provide periodontal services. Periodontal disease is another term for gum disease, and periodontics consists of the dental services that combat the disease. We provide scaling and root planing, which means we remove plaque and stuck-on tartar from the teeth, and we clean down into the gum line with dental tools to remove plaque. These cleanings can help your gum inflammation. For severe cases, we can do gum grafting and various surgeries that can help cover exposed tooth roots. If you believe you have gum disease or gum inflammation, make sure to call Evanson DDS at (720) 409-0008!

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