Your soft tissue or “gums” play an important role in maintaining a high level of oral health. Healthy soft tissue keeps teeth in place, reduces the rate of tooth decay, and keeps breath fresh while contributing to optimal overall health.
How Can My Gums Be Damaged?
The main condition that causes damage to the gums is periodontitis. Periodontitis (periodontal disease/gum disease) is the inflammation of the tissue around the teeth, and often causes damage to the gums and loosening of the teeth. Periodontitis occurs when plaque builds up, hardens and turns to calculus or tartar, creating pockets between the teeth and the soft tissue that holds the teeth in place. The inflammation process continues, bacteria spreads and this bacteria eventually may wear away supporting tissue. The earliest stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. Gingivitis causes the gums to become inflamed, tender, red, swollen, and prone to bleeding. Since the bone and tissue holding teeth in place isn’t affected, much of the damage from gingivitis is reversible.
However, if left untreated, gingivitis can progress into more aggressive forms of periodontitis and may result in tooth loss. Even with more severe forms of periodontal disease, effective treatment may be able to prevent the disease from progressing.
How Should I Take Care Of My Gums?
Periodontal disease is a serious and common condition among American adults. According to the CDC, 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease. If you have periodontal disease, professional treatment is recommended.
Maintaining the health of the gums is crucial for maintaining your overall health. Here are ways to prevent periodontal disease or its progression:
- Brush twice a day
- Drink plenty of water
- Floss at least once a day
- Visit your dentist and follow the treatment plan provided
Periodontal disease has been linked to the following conditions:
- Heart disease
- Low birth weight babies and premature delivery
Periodontal disease, while common, is a serious condition that requires professional medical care.
If you’ve been uncomfortable visiting the dentist, please do not hesitate to contact us. Many adults have periodontal disease at various stages. Our team is trained in providing compassionate care and will help you feel confident in your oral healthcare plan. Achieving optimal oral health is within reach and will make a significant impact on your overall health. Contact your Alexandria periodontist to schedule your examination and consultation.
Karl A. Smith, DDS, MS
Phone: (703) 894-4867
2500 N. Van Dorn St., Suite 128
Alexandria, VA 22302