According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gum disease is believed to affect 47.2% of adults aged 30 or older. Gum disease is also more prevalent in men than women, amongst current smokers, in those with less than a high-school education, and in those living below the federal poverty level.
Periodontal disease, the more serious form of gum disease, results from infections and inflammation of the gum and bones that hold your teeth in place. And when not treated appropriately with good oral care at home and routine care from a dentist or periodontist, it can lead to tooth loss. Knowing the early signs of gum disease can be the game-changer in preventing periodontal disease from occurring.
What are the early signs of gum disease?
Like we previously suggested, knowing the early signs of gum disease can be a game changer. Whether you are a smoker or not, you should be on the lookout for the following.
- Bleeding and red gums
- Swollen gum tissue
If you identify either of these issues, it indicates that your home oral care routine needs to change and that you need to see a dentist for a dental cleaning and oral evaluation. But if you smoke, it is essential to understand that tobacco use will increase your chances of developing gum disease, regardless of plaque build-up.
Also critical to understand is that smoking deprives your mouth of oxygen. Your blood requires oxygen, so if your mouth isn’t receiving the oxygen it needs, it may still bleed, but it might not be so obvious. Thus, you might not be as quick to notice bleeding and swollen gums, which are early signs of gum disease.
While we always encourage smokers to seek options to quit, we know that this is a personal decision and can only be done when the time is right for you. It is not our place to judge. Instead, the team at Dr. Steven A. Lang, DDS, wants to ensure patients know what other signs to look for that could indicate the presence of early gum disease. Though these can also be masked by smoking and tobacco usage, be on the lookout for the following signs and symptoms:
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Pain when chewing
- Gum recession
- Increasing spacing between your teeth
- Loosened adult teeth (adult teeth should not be loose)
Quit smoking and lessen your risk for gum disease.
When you decide the time is right to quit smoking, there are various strategies to try and a host of resources available to you. You also need to determine if you are going to try the “cold turkey” approach or you are going to cut back gradually.
Though the cold turkey approach is often a tried-and-true method, the method that you choose is a personal decision. Whichever path you take, consider the following tips.
- Seek a new activity to help keep you busy.
- Let your loved ones know your plans so that they can offer support.
- Talk to your health care team about patches or medical supplements that can help you with withdrawals.
- Get rid of all nicotine products in your home or place of work to help avoid temptation.
- Buy gum, toothpicks, and hard candies that you can use to help fight the urge when it happens.
- Seek out a therapist you can talk to.
- Do a test run for a day or two in advance so that you can make note of how you are feeling and what you will need to be successful.
Quitting tobacco use will bring major benefits to your oral health and overall health.
Aside from helping reverse those early signs of gum disease, quitting tobacco use will provide a variety of oral health benefits. Within just a short period of time, you can expect to see the following:
- Better breath
- An improved sense of taste and smell
- Cost savings
- Reduced risk of various illnesses including many cancers and heart disease
- Brighter teeth, healthy gums, and a healthier smile
Whether you decide to quit smoking now or later, don’t forget the importance of staying up to date on your dental check-ups and maintaining excellent at-home dental care. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time using a dentist-recommended toothbrush. Floss between all teeth and gums at least once per day, preferably at bedtime. Rinse your mouth after flossing using a fluoridated mouthwash.
Contact us today for your next oral evaluation.
These tips will not only remove plaque and keep your mouth fresher and cleaner but will make those trips to the dentist every six months quite a bit easier. And of course, be sure to request an appointment with your Middletown dentist at the Miami Valley dental office.