THE MEDICAL RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH PERIODONTAL DISEASE
Keeping your mouth healthy is about more than just avoiding cavities and making your smile look great — a healthy mouth equals a healthy heart. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) is following many studies researching the connection between gum disease and heart disease. While gum disease does not directly cause or lead to heart disease, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that they are linked. In addition to heart disease, gum disease has been linked to diabetes, certain cancers, and strokes. All of this means that taking care of your teeth and gums can have a positive effect on your heart and overall health. The experienced professionals at Meadows Dental Care offer diagnosis and treatment for gum disease. Learn more about the cause and symptoms of gum disease, as well as treatments and prevention tips.
Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) is an inflammation of the soft tissue holding your teeth. This situation occurs when plaque (a sticky bacteria) begins to build up around the teeth. Plaque is created when starches and sugars mix with your saliva. This is completely natural and happens to everyone. However, the plaque is typically removed when you brush, floss, and visit your dentist’s office for regular cleanings. If it is not properly removed, plaque becomes a hardened substance known as tartar. The two together (plaque and tartar wreak havoc in your mouth, initiating gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums that bleed easily. If it is not diagnosed and treated, gingivitis turns into periodontitis. A more advanced stage of gum disease, periodontitis causes the gums to pull away from the root of the tooth, which makes your teeth feel loose. Without treatment, the infection can spread to your teeth, jawbone, and eventually, your whole body if it reaches your bloodstream.
Gum disease is more common than you think. Nearly half of the adult population suffers from some degree of the condition. Because early signs of gum disease are often painless, it can be difficult for you to diagnose on your own. The best way to check and make sure you do not have gum disease is to diligently schedule and attend dental cleanings and examinations at your dentist’s office in Austin, TX. Also, know what to look for when brushing, so you can stay ahead of the curve and schedule an appointment if you notice symptoms. The most common symptoms of gum disease are swollen, tender, and red gums that bleed easily when you brush, floss, or eat hard foods. Chronic bad breath (halitosis) is also a clue that something is going on in your mouth and you could use a checkup. A more serious symptom is the presence of pus or a sore between your teeth and gums. You may also notice a buildup of hard brown deposits at the top of your teeth near the gumline. If you notice that your gums are receding or your teeth feel loose, schedule an appointment with your dentist right away for diagnosis and treatment.
Gingivitis is often treated with one or more scaling and root planing (SRP) treatment. During an SRP treatment, your dentist will use a scaling tool to remove buildup from your gum pockets. Then, your dentist will smooth or plane the enamel of the tooth to remove rough surfaces and crevices where buildup often develops. Your dentist may prescribe a round of antibiotics after an SRP treatment to eliminate any lingering bacteria in your gums. If your gum disease has progressed to periodontitis, your dentist may recommend periodontal surgery to reach deeper areas of your gums than a scaling and root planing treatment.
Healthy teeth and gums are the foundation of a beautiful smile. If you want to make sure you never have to deal with the symptoms or consequences of gum disease, there are several things you can do to reduce your risk:
- ROUTINE MEDICAL CHECKS
You should schedule an annual exam with your general practitioner to check your overall health. Your doctor will perform diagnostics like blood tests to see if you have or are at risk for common health problems. Based on your test results, your doctor can recommend ways to improve your overall health, which may reduce your risk of oral health problems. For example, controlling your blood pressure, being at a healthy weight, and managing common health conditions like diabetes can help you reduce your chances of suffering from gum disease.
- HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
When you eat a balanced diet that avoids processed and sugary foods, you can reduce the development of plaque and tartar on your teeth, which minimizes your chance of getting gum disease. Reducing your stress levels and establishing a weekly workout regimen can also help to reduce your risk of oral health problems like gum disease.
- AVOID TOBACCO
People who use tobacco (smoking cigars or cigarettes, chewing, or vaping) are seven times for likely to suffer from oral conditions, so you should quit right away can help prevent gingivitis, periodontitis, and oral cancer. If you need help, talk to your primary care physician about smoking and other tobacco cessation methods, including gum, nicotine patches, and prescription medication.
- REGULAR DENTAL VISITS
Go to your dentist at least twice a year for an oral health exam and professional cleanings. Exams allow your dentist to catch problems like gum disease in the early stages so it is easier to treat. Professional cleanings remove built-up plaque and tartar that you may have trouble reaching at home. Regular visits to a trustworthy dentist can help you fight off gum disease and greatly reduce the risk of heart disease through exams and cleanings. If you have dental fears or anxieties that keep you from routine appointments, our office in Austin, TX offers different levels of sedation dentistry to keep you calm and relaxed so you can get these important exams and cleanings.
HEALTHY FOR LIFE
Protect your heart by improving your oral health. Find a great dentist and visit their office at least twice a year to avoid gum disease and other dental problems. Our practice in Austin, TX has board-certified and experienced dental professionals who are skilled in preventing, diagnosing, and treating the varying stages of gum disease. Fight against gingivitis and periodontitis by scheduling an oral health exam and then developing a stellar oral health regimen at home that give you a gorgeous smile for life.