What You Need to Know About Periodontitis, Gingivitis, and Gum Health

Know the signs of periodontitis

Periodontal Disease in Adults

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 47% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal diseases comprise various illnesses such as gum diseases, gingivitis, and periodontitis that result from infection and inflammation of the gums and bones that support your teeth. And unfortunately, periodontal disease and tooth decay are two of the biggest threats that can harm your dental health. For these reasons, the team at Oxley Comprehensive Dental feel there are some things you need to know about periodontitis, gingivitis, and gum health.

5 things you should know about periodontitis, gingivitis, and gum health

We believe that knowledge is power. And, since your oral health serves as a gateway to your overall health, the more you know, the more you can take control of your oral and dental health.

1. Understanding the difference between periodontitis and gingivitis

Honestly, just seeing the words periodontitis and gingivitis could be enough to scare anyone into scheduling their next dental exam. But seriously, what is the difference between these two forms of gum disease? Put simply, gingivitis is a reversible gum inflammation condition that precedes periodontitis. And gingivitis is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. On the other hand, periodontitis is a bacterial infection that affects all tissues that surround and support your teeth, gums, periodontal ligament, and jaw bone. In most cases, periodontitis results from poor oral hygiene habits and most commonly occurs when bacterial plaque builds up along the gum line and hardens into a crusty, yellow deposit called tartar.

2. What you eat and drink matters

When you drink and eat starchy or sugary foods, you’re feeding the bacteria that lead to tooth decay and gum disease inside your mouth. Plaque is a thin, sticky film of bacteria and other materials that covers the surfaces of your teeth. When starches or sugars in your mouth come into contact with plaque, it causes acid to form. This acid attacks your teeth long after you finish eating. 

Continued attacks on the enamel of your teeth will lead to decay. In addition, the bacteria in that plaque will trigger an inflammatory response in your gums, causing the gums to break down, which can damage the supporting structures of your teeth. This said, certain foods are more likely to contribute to tooth decay than others. For these reasons, most dentists suggest that patients stay away from the following foods and beverages whenever possible.

  • Sticky candies and sweets
  • Starchy foods that can get stuck in your mouth
  • Carbonated and dark-colored soft drinks
  • Substances that dry out your mouth, such as alcohol 

3. Your daily oral hygiene routine matters more than you know

We know how busy life can get, but despite all of the priorities competing against one another, your oral hygiene routine is far more critical than you might realize. Under normal circumstances, the body’s natural defenses can help keep bacteria under control. But without proper oral hygiene, there is a risk that harmful bacteria can reach levels that can cause oral infections that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. To prevent those infections from occurring, your dentist will suggest the following steps be taken every day. By following these steps, you can regain gum health (and lose pocket depth).

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, using a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Floss your teeth once per day, making sure to get between all of your teeth, including those teeth in the back of your mouth
  • Rinsing your mouth at least once per day with a fluoridated mouthwash

4. Dentists are your best friends when it comes to your overall health

In addition to caring for your teeth and gums at home to help prevent tooth decay and lessen your chances of developing gum disease or periodontitis, regular dental checkups can make a world of difference. Quite frankly, keeping bacteria in your body low is greatly helped by regular dental checkups. 

So if you have been wondering just how often you need to see your dentist, we think it would help you understand what takes place during the typical dental exam. During your visit, the hygienist or dentist will conduct a thorough physical exam of your entire mouth. Then, using a small mirror to ensure no areas are missed, plaque and tartar will be removed. Next, your teeth will be cleaned and expertly flossed and then rinsed to remove any excess debris. The last step of the cleaning process will be a fluoride treatment. To keep on top of all these checks, most dentists recommend a visit every six months. 

5. Braces can help reduce your risks of developing periodontitis or gingivitis

Straightening teeth makes it less likely that patients will suffer from common dental concerns such as tooth decay, gum disease, or gum recession. When compared to metal braces, clear braces can reduce the likelihood of orthodontic work that can cause gum problems, as there are no areas for teeth to trap plaque. Clear braces, more often referred to as aligners, work to stimulate bone growth, which is vital for patients who have suffered from resorption from gum disease. 

When teeth are out of position, it often leads to abnormal wear and thus causes problems with some regions of the teeth and jaw. By moving your teeth into the correct alignment through the use of clear braces, we can reduce the risk of future gum issues, thus reducing the risk of periodontitis or gingivitis.

Let Oxley Comprehensive Dental be your partner to achieve optimal gum health

If you are concerned about periodontitis and want to focus on achieving optimal gum health, now is the time to request an appointment with the team at Oxley Comprehensive Dental. We’ll answer all of your questions about periodontitis and gingivitis and ensure that you know what you need to know to keep your gums happy and healthy. We look forward to meeting you.