February is gum disease awareness month! 3 Tips to Prevent Gum Disease

February is National Gum Disease Awareness month! At Periodontal Health Center, our goal is to educate our community about gum health and oral health to help our patients keep their natural teeth for a lifetime. After all, a healthy mouth makes for a healthy body. 

In the spirit of National Gum Disease Awareness month, we’re discussing gum disease, including causes, symptoms, and top tips to prevent it. 

What causes gum disease?

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is caused by a buildup of bacteria, plaque and tartar on the teeth and at the gum line. Plaque is a thick, sticky film that forms when bacteria is left behind on teeth and gums. 

Plaque can start to build up and increase the risk of gum disease for any number of reasons, including:

  • An insufficient oral hygiene routine (this is the most common cause)
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Prescription medications
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Family history/genetics

Symptoms of gum disease

So how do you know if you’re developing gum disease? Gum disease develops in stages, starting with gingivitis, then developing to periodontitis, then to advanced periodontitis.

Stage 1: Gingivitis Symptoms 

When gum disease first develops, you may experience swelling, puffiness, tenderness and reddening in the gums, gums bleeding when you brush or floss, and bad breath.

Stage 2: Periodontitis Symptoms

In stage two of gum disease, you may experience receding gums, pain when biting or chewing, frequent bleeding, sensitivity in teeth and gums, loose teeth or wiggling teeth, and odors when flossing or bad breath.

Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis Symptoms

With advanced periodontitis, you may experience persistent bad breath or bad odor in the mouth, swollen gums, a change in the way your top and bottom teeth fit together, exposed teeth roots and receding gums, blood on your toothbrush, and sores in the mouth. 

Risks of gum disease

It’s imperative that you get gum disease diagnosed and treated as soon as possible to prevent associated health conditions or complications. Progressed gum disease can result in exposed tooth roots and gums pulling away from teeth, irreversible bone loss in the jaw and teeth falling out.

Research has also linked gum disease to health conditions such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease 
  • Kidney disease
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Asthma
  • Respiratory disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancer

As soon as you notice any symptoms associated with gum disease, it’s essential that you visit our experienced periodontists in New Port Richey or Tampa. We’ll develop a personalized plan to treat your condition, prevent symptoms from worsening and save your natural teeth!

Preventing gum disease: Top 3 tips

It isn’t difficult to prevent gum disease! The body’s natural state is one of health and wellbeing. As long as you stay conscious of your health, visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings, and visit Periodontal Health Center if you start to notice disease signs or symptoms, you can prevent gum disease throughout your entire life. 

Here are 3 simple tips to help you prevent periodontal disease:

  • Commit to healthy oral hygiene habits.

Developing small but consistent habits is one of the easiest ways to improve your health and prevent diseases. Once you develop a habit that becomes a part of your daily routine, the habit becomes muscle memory and maintaining the habit is relatively effortless.

Make a habit of brushing your teeth thoroughly for a full minute in the morning and in the evening, and flossing in the evening. Use fluoride toothpaste, and consider rinsing your mouth with a fluoride mouthwash to top off your routine. It only takes a total of 4 to 5 minutes a day to maintain beautiful, healthy teeth and gums!

  • Visit your dentist for regular cleanings.

Visiting your dentist for professional cleanings is essential for removing plaque and tartar that build up on teeth and at the gum line. As plaque builds up and hardens, it can’t be removed by a toothbrush or floss alone. 

Your dentist has special tools necessary to scrape off plaque and tartar and prevent buildup. Your dentist also assesses your gums for inflammation and signs of gum disease and will refer you to a periodontist if they identify periodontal disease. In that case, we’ll likely perform a scaling and root planing treatment to clean your teeth and gums. 

If you know that you’re already at risk of gum disease, schedule an appointment with us and we’ll develop an individualized treatment plan. 

Simply attend your dental cleanings every six months or as often as instructed by your dentist.

  • Know the risk factors of gum disease and do your part to prevent/avoid them.

Do your best to avoid risk factors that are in your control. Risk factors such as smoking tobacco or chewing tobacco, poor stress management habits, having crooked teeth, clenching and grinding your teeth, poor diet and overindulging in alcohol contribute to gum disease. 

Prioritize your health by working toward quitting cigarettes (the CDC offers free support!) and developing healthy stress management habits (like exercising, meditating and getting enough sleep). If you have crooked teeth that are difficult to clean thoroughly, consider orthodontic treatment to straighten your teeth and minimize areas that harbor bacteria.

You can also look into using a nightguard if you clench and grind your teeth in your sleep.

Still have questions about gum disease?

Happy Gum Disease Awareness Month! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. We’re here to help you improve your health and maintain beautiful, clean gums and teeth. 

Our experienced periodontists, Dr. Jessica Stilley, Dr. Armita Mashkouri and Dr. Camille Medina, are here to help you. Learn more oral hygiene tips, learn more about our practice and schedule an appointment with leading periodontists in Tampa or New Port Richey!  

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