We love to see our patients smile. We also know that our patients smile more when they have healthy mouths.
And to have a healthy mouth, you must have healthy gums.
Gum disease is a real problem. Most Americans will develop some form of gum disease during their lives. That includes nearly half of adults 30 and older who have periodontitis, which is an advanced form of gum disease.
At the office of Jennifer Perkins, DDS, in Huntsville, AL, we are committed to working with you to keep your mouth as healthy as possible. If you want to prevent or treat gum infections, please call us today at 256-801-0002 to schedule your next dental appointment with us.
Preventing Problems Before They Begin
If you have a periodontal infection, the best thing you can do is get help as soon as possible. The longer you allow the infection to persist, the more likely you are to experience issues such as gum recession and tooth loss.
We would rather help you avoid those problems whenever possible.
As with any disease, the best approach is prevention. You can do this by following the American Dental Association’s recommendations:
- Get regular dental cleanings and exams
- Brush your teeth twice daily
- Floss daily
When we say floss, we mean “clean the spaces between your teeth and below your gumline.” We’ll discuss a few ways to do this in a moment. The important this is that you actually do this. Your toothbrush is a valuable tool, but it can’t clean those in-between spaces as well. That’s why flossing is so important.
To get to those spaces, you can use dental floss. And the good news is that you can use whatever kind of dental floss you prefer. It can be flavored or have none. It can be waxed or unwaxed. It can be whatever thickness works for you, too.
If you don’t, won’t, or can’t use dental floss, you might want to pick up a pack of flossers instead. These usually can be found near the dental floss in stores. Flossers have a strand of floss on one end and a short handle. Many find these are more comfortable to use. You also might find that they make it easier to clean between your back teeth.
Another great option is a water flosser. This allows you to aim a targeted stream of water to clean those in-between spaces. These come in a variety of prices and styles, so you can probably find one that works for you.
Taking Care of Trouble
Please contact us now if you are already showing symptoms of gum disease:
- Red, swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath that never goes away
- Sore or tender gums
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Pus between your teeth and gums
You may have one or more of these symptoms. Please keep in mind that many people never feel pain when they have gum disease. That makes it important to be aware of the other signs that your gums may be infected.
If you do have a problem, we offer comfortable gum disease treatment at our office.
Often the first step is scaling and root planing. This is a simple, but effective two-step process. Scaling involves removing plaque and tartar buildup from the roots of your teeth. This is similar to what we do during a regular clean only we clean deep below the gumline. Root planing is a way to smooth the surface of your roots. This is important because it helps gums reattach to your roots as you heal.
Depending on the severity of your infection, you also may receive Perio Protect®. With this, you will receive plastic trays (similar to a mouthguard) that hold an antibiotic medication. You will wear them for a few minutes a day to kill harmful bacteria and to reduce your risk of reinfection.
Risk Factors for Gum Disease
It may not be fair, but some people are more likely to develop gum infections than others. Some of the risk factors are things you can control. Others are things that you can’t. Either way, knowing and understanding your risk factors is beneficial for your oral health.
• Having diabetes increases your risk of gum infections. The exact reasons for this have not be determined. But one hypothesis has to do with dry mouths. People with diabetes are more likely to experience dry mouth, and a dry mouth is a good place for harmful bacteria to grow. These bacteria raise your risk of gum disease.
• Getting older also makes you more likely to develop problems with your gums. This goes along with other aspects of getting older. It’s normal for our bodies to function a little differently with age, and that includes the parts of our bodies that help us fight off infections.
• Hormone changes also can affect how likely you are to develop oral health issues. Overall, men are more likely to have gum disease than women. At the same time, women are at a greater risk at times when their bodies are experiencing hormone changes. This includes puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
• It may go without saying, but poor oral hygiene is often a factor in gum problems. Earlier we recommended flossing every single day, yet less than half of all Americans actually do this. According to an American Dental Association survey, only 4 in 10 people said they floss daily. That leaves 6 in 10 who do not, and that 6 includes 2 people who never floss.
• Last but not least, tobacco use is one of the worst things you can do with regard to your oral health. It can damage your gums, and leave them more vulnerable to infections. This also makes gum disease harder to treat, and it raises your risk of reinfection. In other words, don’t start using, and if you do use tobacco, we encourage you to quit. If you want help giving up tobacco, you could start by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW.
Protect Your Gums to Preserve Your Smile
Just to reiterate something we mentioned earlier, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the US. We want you to keep your teeth, which is also why we want you to have healthy gums.