Protecting your smile is not just about teeth that are pearly-white or perfectly aligned. Your gums are an integral part of the equation, for your oral health as well as your overall health. The symptoms of gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease, are usually painless in the beginning and can make their home among cavity-free, white teeth. Periodontal disease is not to be taken lightly, as it has been associated with an increased rate of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain cancers, and tooth loss.
The good news is that gum disease is preventable with proper dental care. The first step in combating gum disease is to enlist the help of an experienced dental professional like Dr. Jeffrey Allred in San Marcos, CA. He features extensive knowledge and training to expertly aid in the diagnosis and treatment of dental issues. Learn more about gum disease and some of its most obvious signs so you can seek treatment early on.
Gum disease explained
Periodontal disease or gum disease is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. Poor oral hygiene can allow a sticky, colorless bacteria known as plaque to build up and harden around the teeth. While brushing and flossing help to remove this buildup, plaque that is not removed turns into tartar and sits on the enamel of your teeth. Only a professional dental cleaning can effectively remove tartar.
When left on the teeth, tartar and plaque work together to create a form of gum disease called gingivitis. Gingivitis happens when plaque builds up on teeth and causes the surrounding gum tissue to become inflamed. Plaque produces toxins that irritate the gums, making them red or puffy, or causing them to bleed.
If this progresses untreated, advanced stages of periodontal disease can lead to sore and bleeding gums, painful chewing problems, and even tooth loss. It is essential to treat and diagnose gum disease before it spreads into the roots of your teeth, the jawbone, and even your muscles.
Signs of gum disease
Healthy gums appear firm, pink, and fit snugly around your teeth. The earliest signs of gum infection and disease are often undetectable to the unprofessional eye. It is essential to schedule regular appointments with Dr. Jeffrey Allred of Allred Dental in San Marcos, CA. His expert eye can determine the early warning signs during routine cleanings and exams. Here are some of the more obvious signs you may have gum disease:
- Swollen or tender gums
- Bleeding while brushing and flossing
- Gums that are pulling away from the teeth
- Loose teeth
- Pus in the gums or teeth
- Sores in your mouth
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away
Scaling and root planing
When caught early, the first stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, can be treated and reversed. Often, routine dental cleaning is not enough to correct this condition by removing plaque, bacteria, and acid buildup, so for patients with gingivitis, Dr. Allred performs scaling and root planing.
San Marcos-area patients who undergo scaling and root planing are first given a local anesthetic to aid their comfort level. Next, Dr. Allred uses a manual scaling tool or an ultrasonic cleaner. After the gum pocket is cleaned, he smooths or planes the surface of the teeth to help minimize areas where plaque and tartar can become trapped. It is not uncommon for some patients to receive more than one treatment for optimal results.
Allred Dental utilizes Perio Protect®, which administers infection-fighting medication beneath the gums. Perio Protect penetrates deep into the gums and teeth to reach areas that traditional brushing cannot. This can help to restore and promote healthier teeth, gums, and overall oral health while also preventing all stages of gum disease.
Preventing gum disease
The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice good, consistent oral hygiene. The following checklist can help to ensure a long-lasting smile:
Flossing at least once a day helps to remove plaque and food that may be lodged between your teeth. Your toothbrush is a terrific tool, but it cannot reach every area of the mouth.
2. Brush twice daily
Men and women who brush their teeth between meals help to remove plaque and buildup trapped in between the gums and teeth. Also, do not forget about your tongue. Use your soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub your tongue to help reduce leftover bacteria.
3. Fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash
Choose a fluoride toothpaste and a therapeutic mouthwash. When combined, the two products can help reduce the rate at which plaque and tartar build up on the enamel of your teeth.
4. Visit your dentist
Schedule appointments at your dentist twice a year for an oral health exam and professional cleanings. Dental exams allow Dr. Allred to catch problems like gingivitis when it first appears. Remember, only professional dental cleaning can remove built-up plaque and tartar. For patients with dental anxiety, our office in San Marcos, CA, offers a variety of sedation dentistry techniques to ease your stress so you can get these crucial exams and cleanings and avoid future issues.
5. Quit tobacco use
Adults who use tobacco products are at a higher risk for the onset of gum disease and oral cancer. Tobacco use weakens the immune system, making it harder to fight off infection and recover afterward.
Gum disease protection
Preventive care is crucial in the fight against gum disease. Find a dentist you trust and visit at least twice a year for checkups and cleanings. At Allred Dental in San Marcos, CA, our team is skilled in preventing, diagnosing, and treating gum disease as well as other dental health issues. Call our office today and schedule an appointment with Dr. Jeffrey Allred to start on the path toward optimal oral health.