Gum disease is a common oral health problem, affecting about half of American adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s also the leading cause of adult tooth loss.
Fortunately, gum disease occurs in stages, and if you begin treating it in its earliest stage — the stage called gingivitis — there’s an excellent chance that it can be reversed, and the serious complications can be avoided. The key is knowing what steps to take to prevent gum disease from progressing.
At Novi Family Dentistry in Novi, Michigan, Abir Faraj, DDS, and her team offer comprehensive treatment for patients with gum disease. In this blog, Dr. Faraj explains what you can do to restore your gums.
Gum disease basics
Gum disease begins when bacteria come together and form a sticky substance called plaque. If plaque is allowed to stay on the teeth, it can harden into a substance called tartar. Furthermore, as bacteria multiply, they release toxins that irritate the gums, causing tissue to pull away from the surfaces of the teeth, creating spaces or “pockets” at the base of the teeth.
As the gum tissue recedes down the surfaces of the teeth, bacteria migrate, too, causing more irritation and inflammation. Eventually, the bacteria can reach the roots of the teeth and cause inflammation that weakens and loosens the teeth, leading to tooth loss.
In this more advanced stage of gum disease (called periodontitis), Dr. Faraj uses special deep-cleaning techniques to help eliminate the infection and stabilize the teeth. But ideally, you want to intervene before the advanced stage occurs.
Reversing gum disease
These five steps can help reverse early gum disease and keep your gums — and teeth — healthy.
1. Improve your at-home routine
Poor oral hygiene is a major cause of gum disease. Improving your brushing and flossing techniques is essential for keeping plaque and bacteria at bay. The American Dental Association offers tips for brushing and flossing that can help you improve your technique, and our hygienist can offer tips during your next visit, too.
2. Don’t skip your dental checkups
Speaking of office visits, attending checkups twice a year can also reduce your risk of developing gum disease. During each visit, we carefully clean around the gum line and remove any plaque that’s lurking around. We also remove the tartar, which can’t be eliminated by brushing and flossing. These regular visits allow us to treat the earliest stages of gum disease to prevent it from progressing.
3. Avoid foods that feed bacteria
You love sweet foods — and so do the bacteria that cause gum disease. Limiting sugary foods and sticky sweets can help keep bacteria in check and reduce your risk of developing gum disease and cavities. Include more fresh fruits and vegetables, and stick to water and unsweetened beverages.
4. Quit smoking
Smoking causes inflammation that harms your gums and causes gums to recede, increasing your risk of developing gum disease. In fact, according to the CDC, smokers are twice as likely to have gum disease as nonsmokers. Dr. Faraj offers smoking cessation assistance that can help you kick the habit.
5. Manage underlying health issues
Diabetes, dry mouth, hormonal issues, and some medications can increase your risk of developing gum disease. Taking steps to manage these conditions can help your gums stay healthy.
Keep your gums healthy
Gum disease often causes no symptoms in its earliest stages, and when it does cause issues, they can be very subtle. Having regular dental visits is the best way to spot the disease early so it can be quickly treated.
To find out if you have gum disease, and to learn how we can help, call 313-646-7903 or book an appointment online with Novi Family Dentistry today.