5 Gum Disease Treatment and Prevention Tips
Gum disease is not a condition that strikes overnight. It is a long process that starts with bacteria, progresses to plaque and tartar, builds to gingivitis and periodontitis, and eventually leads to teeth falling out of your head if you do nothing to prevent or treat it. Yuck and ouch. In truth, untreated gum disease could come with additional health risks. If abscesses form they could move into your blood stream and make their way to your heart, a potentially fatal condition. You probably never suspected that oral health problems could kill you, but any type of health issue that goes untreated has the potential to cause permanent damage. And the worst part is that gum disease is not only treatable; it’s also easy to prevent. So here are just a few treatment and prevention tips that should help you to overcome gum disease and promote the best oral health possible.
- Antibiotics. When bacteria buildup in the mouth leads to inflammation of the gums, antibiotics are generally the first line of defense to treat the infected areas, often in concert with a deep cleaning process that includes scaling and root planning in order to remove tartar below the gum line and smooth rough areas where bacteria are likely to take hold. Of course, antibiotics won’t be enough if you’re unwilling to change your dental hygiene habits, so your dentist will no doubt suggest a new regimen of care to go along with the antibiotics you’re taking. But even with lifestyle changes underway, it could take several rounds of antibiotics in elevating degrees of strength to knock out gum disease for good.
- Surgery. If antibiotics don’t seem to be doing the trick when it comes to curing your gum disease, more serious measures may have to be taken in order protect your overall oral health. Flap surgery, in which your dentist or periodontist peels back your gums to clean away tartar and infected tissue, is one possibility. But problems that go deeper may require tissue or bone grafts to repair the damage. As a last resort, you may even have to get some of your teeth removed.
- Brush, floss, rinse. If you’re lucky, you’ll never have to go through surgery to treat gum disease, and avoiding this unpleasant scenario starts with proper oral hygiene practices at home. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing are activities that not only keep your breath smelling fresh and your smile looking sparkly; they also help to kill bacteria that thrives in your mouth, clear away the food particles that bacteria feed on, and prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar that lead to gum disease. So make sure to follow this routine at least twice a day, although after every meal is ideal.
- Give up bad habits. Smoking is a major contributor to gum disease for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it dries your mouth, and saliva flow is a key component in rinsing away food and bacteria. But of course, smoking also limits the effectiveness of treatments for gum disease. So even if you don’t quit in time to stave off gingivitis, your dentist will strongly recommend quitting in order to increase your chances of reversing gum disease. Another bad habit you may want to give up is sugar, which feeds bacteria, erodes enamel, and weakens the natural defenses of every tooth.
- Schedule regular check-ups. There’s only so much you can do on your own and then you need the help of a professional to ensure optimum oral health. In short, you need to meet with your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings. So call 1-800-DENTIST, pull out the Yellow Pages, or schedule an appointment with your favorite local hygienist at Embassy Dental. Ideally, you should have cleanings every six months, although once a year is the absolute minimum. If you’re struggling with gum disease, however, your dentist may want to schedule more frequent visits to track your progress.