Have you heard of the term - Periodontics? If not, you are like many of our patients. This area of dentistry focuses on the health of the gums. It is not widely known, and so most people go about their oral hygiene routine without ever thinking about it. In fact, if you were to ask most people what oral health issue they were concerned about, the most common answer would be cavities. It is rare for people to think about their gum health, but this is actually one of the most important functions of a dentist – keeping your gums healthy.
The majority of adults will experience red and swollen gums at some point in their lifetime with many adults getting gingivitis or more serious periodontics issues. It normally occurs when plaque and tartar get trapped underneath the gum tissue, on top of the tooth. Since this area is impossible to clean at home, it remains there, causing immense irritation. The gums respond by swelling, bleeding and becoming uncomfortable. They may also start to recede or pull away from the teeth, creating pockets in the gum tissue.
Since gum recession exposes the lower structure and roots of your tooth, these areas can become infected. When this happens, you can experience bone loss, your teeth becoming loose, and eventually tooth loss. Statistically, gum disease is a leading cause of adult tooth loss so if you don't want to end up wearing dentures, you need to pay attention to the health of your gums. Periodontics is focused on gum health so we can often prevent tooth loss down the road.
The first thing we need to do is clean the area by removing the bacteria, plaque, and tartar. This is done with a deep cleaning that is sometimes completed in four separate appointments to ensure that you remain comfortable. If the disease is isolated to one area, that will make it faster. Once the irritant (plaque) has been removed it becomes time to work on the gums themselves. There are several ways to restore the gums, and since every patient is different, we can make a specific recommendation during your dental exam.
If you want to prevent the need for a deep cleaning or restorative gum procedure, you should be careful to brush your teeth in a circular motion, moving the plaque towards the center of your mouth and away from your gums. Flossing is also an important tool in fighting gum disease since plaque can become trapped in between the teeth. In our dental office, we understand that some of our patients do not enjoy flossing. There are flossing tools that you can purchase to make the job easier. They sell them at the local drugstore. Those that still do not want to floss should consider using an electric toothbrush since they can do a better job of getting your teeth clean than a traditional toothbrush would. Additionally, keeping regular teeth cleaning appointments is one of the best defenses you have against gum disease.