You probably know that gum disease has a lot to do with your dental health. But did you know it goes far beyond that? At The Dental Touch in Oakland, California, our experienced dental providers can help you understand the risks of gum disease and provide you with the information you need to stop it in its tracks.
The problem with gum disease
There are several different names for gum disease, including gingivitis, periodontal disease, and periodontitis. But, even though there are different terms for this dental issue, they all describe an infection in your gums that can damage the soft tissue and bones supporting your teeth.
In most cases, gum disease develops because of plaque. Plaque is a sticky and colorless coating of bacteria that builds up around your tooth and on its surface. When ignored, it can harden into tartar, which makes it even harder to remove.
Having plaque and tartar buildup in your mouth activates your immune system, leading to swelling and inflammation. Without treatment, this inflammation ultimately causes tooth loss. But the risks don’t stop there because bacteria in your mouth can enter your bloodstream, increasing your chances of other health issues, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Respiratory disease
- Heart disease
- Heart attack and stroke
Approximately 50% of Americans 30 and older have periodontitis — the most advanced form of gum disease. Fortunately, most cases are preventable and treatable.
Preventing gum disease
Practicing good oral hygiene remains the most important thing you can do to prevent gum disease. You can keep your teeth and gums free of plaque and tartar by:
- Brushing at least twice a day
- Flossing once a day
- Scheduling professional cleanings every 6-12 months
If you already have hard-to-remove buildup, we also recommend professional treatments like scaling and debridement to remove plaque and tartar, even below your gumline.
Understanding your risks
Anyone can develop gum disease, especially if they’re not practicing good oral hygiene. However, other factors can also increase your chances of plaque and tartar buildup, including:
- Having a family history of the condition
- Being overweight or obese
- Undergoing hormonal changes, like pregnancy or menopause
- Using tobacco (smoking or chewing)
- Vaping or smoking marijuana
- Taking medications that cause gum changes or dry mouth
- Having a poor diet or nutritional deficiencies
Certain diseases or health conditions -- including diabetes, Crohn’s disease, leukemia, and HIV/AIDS -- can also increase your risk of gum disease.
To take a stand against gum disease, contact us by calling 510-324-9096 or by requesting an appointment online.