Prevent gum disease by understanding the causes.
When you visit the dentist, cavities are likely what’s on your mind. For most people, preventing them is the most important element of maintaining their oral health—but it’s not the only one. It’s important to remember that your gum health is just as important to your oral health! Unfortunately, though, it’s often overlooked or not well understood, which is best illustrated by the fact that 47.2% of adults aged 30 or older have some form of gum disease.
So, how do we reduce these numbers?
Learning about the condition is a good and relatively simple place to start. When you understand gum disease and its causes, it’s so much easier to prevent it and ensure that your mouth stays healthy on every level, from your teeth to your gums!
To help you start understanding gum disease and how to prevent it, we’ve outlined 5 major causes of gum disease and ways you can avoid them.
1. Plaque Buildup
One of the biggest causes of gum disease is plaque buildup. Plaque is a film of bacteria that forms on your teeth, often as a result of poor oral hygiene. Thankfully, this means that the solution to plaque buildup is just as simple!
All you need to do is practice a great oral hygiene routine, which should include brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using mouthwash daily. Your routine should include all of these elements because plaque can form around your gum line even if you’re brushing your teeth thoroughly and regularly. This is because toothbrushes simply can’t clean all the cracks and crevices, but flossing can!
Flossing cleans plaque from between your teeth and around your gum line, preventing it from hardening into tartar, and protecting both your teeth and gums from bacteria. It only takes a few minutes every day to practice a good oral hygiene routine like this, but it provides noticeable, lasting benefits to your oral health and even protects you from overall health issues. This makes the tradeoff more than worth it!
Another simple way to prevent plaque buildup and eliminate the accumulation of tartar from your teeth is to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lang every six months. These appointments provide key benefits to your oral health, including preventing cavities and gum disease, with a regular professional dental cleaning, and they give your dentist a chance to spot potential oral health issues like gingivitis early.
Additionally, they’re a good chance to ask Dr. Lang for advice on things like fluoride treatments or on improving your at-home routine, such as trying a water flosser if you have joint or mobility issues.
2. Crooked Teeth
This might sound strange at first, but crooked teeth increase your likelihood of suffering from gum disease because they’re harder to clean thoroughly. When you think about it, this makes sense. After all, crooked teeth create a lot of nooks and crannies for plaque to build up in that are hard to maneuver toothbrushes and floss into.
Being aware of this can encourage you to spend a little extra time making sure you clean your teeth carefully, but there are also several long-term solutions that you may want to consider. One or two slightly crooked teeth can sometimes be resolved with dental veneers or, if a single tooth is severely crooked, a dental crown.
If you have multiple crooked teeth or a misaligned bite, though, the best solution is often orthodontic treatments, like braces or clear aligners. No matter which solution you choose, straightening crooked teeth eliminates crannies for plaque to build up in, which improves your smile’s health and appearance. This can give you more confidence in yourself as well as the comfort of having a healthier smile.
3. Damaged or Ill-Fitting Dental Restorations
When dental restorations don’t fit well or become damaged, they can irritate your gums and lead to swelling. This swelling isn’t just uncomfortable—it also makes your gums more vulnerable to infection, increasing your likelihood of developing gingivitis or periodontitis. This is why it’s important to find a great dentist to create custom-made dental restorations for you and to keep up with maintenance on your restorations.
You want to make sure that your restoration looks amazing and fits well, as this will make it more comfortable and help you maintain great oral health. It’s a pretty important combo, so it’s worth finding the right dentist for you!
If your restoration is ever damaged, you should always visit Dr. Lang to get it repaired or replaced as soon as possible. It’s also important to see your dentist every six months to ensure that your restoration is still functioning the way it’s meant to and hasn’t been damaged without you realizing it.
It’s also important to schedule yearly appointments to check restorations like dentures, as they may need adjustments over time to keep them fitting well. Doing this allows your restorations to continue functioning the way they’re meant to, feeling comfortable, and looking their best, making your daily life easier. It also saves you money by helping them last as long as possible, and preventing the irritation from a damaged or ill-fitting restoration that can lead to oral health issues like gum disease.
4. Certain Illnesses or Medications
Although we often think of it as separate, your mouth is just as much a part of your body as every other part—and that means that your oral health is also impacted by certain illnesses or medications. Since your immune system plays a role in fighting off bacteria in your mouth to prevent oral health issues like a tooth cavity or gum disease, illnesses that weaken your immune system, such as cancer, poorly controlled diabetes, and autoimmune or inflammatory diseases like lupus, Celiac disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, also impact your body’s ability to fight oral health conditions like gum disease.
When your body can’t fight bacteria as well, your chances of gum disease go up. For the same reason, immunosuppressant medications and chemotherapy drugs also increase your likelihood of getting gum disease.
Your saliva also plays a key role in fighting oral bacteria and flushing food debris from your mouth to keep it healthy. In fact, its role is so important that when you don’t have enough saliva in your mouth, you’re more likely to develop cavities or gum disease. Dry mouth is a common side effect of medications and even a symptom of a few illnesses, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, making it a common issue for many people.
Thankfully, there are ways to fight each of these issues and protect your oral health! If you know you’re at greater risk for developing gum disease, a great oral hygiene routine is a must. It’s also vital to visit Dr. Lang regularly to check up on your oral health and catch any issues early. Drinking plenty of water and using a specialized mouthwash that is designed to help with dry mouth can also make a huge difference in your oral health.
If you’re unsure how to adjust for your illness, especially if you’re trying to navigate a new illness or medication, don’t be afraid to ask Dr. Lang for advice. He’s always willing to sit down with you and answer all the questions you need to maintain great oral health.
Your genetics have a strong impact on your overall health throughout your life, and they can have just as big of an impact on your oral health. Just like with many other health issues, if you have a family history of gum disease, you may also be more likely to develop it yourself.
Similarly, there are genetic factors to many of the diseases that can increase your risk of gum disease, such as Celiac disease. As a result, it’s a good idea to be aware of your family history of gum disease and other health issues.
When you’re aware of these factors, you can take additional steps to protect your oral health, including being particularly careful with your at-home oral health routine, visiting Dr. Lang for regular checkups, and doing regular screenings for health issues that you may be more prone to.
The Essentials for Beating Gum Disease
Preventive action and early diagnosis are both essential for your long-term oral and overall health, helping you feel better and live a longer life!
Your oral health can be just as complex as your overall health, but gum disease prevention doesn’t have to be complicated! It’s usually as simple as practicing great oral hygiene at home, being aware of your risk factors, and visiting Dr. Lang twice a year for an appointment.
There are other causes of gum disease to be aware of, however, including tobacco use and changes in hormone levels. If you’d like to learn more about your oral health, gum disease treatment, or anything about smiles in Middletown, Ohio, feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lang at any time.