While as dentists, we focus mostly on teeth, healthy gums play a vital role in optimal oral health. September is National Gum Care Month and according to The University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, not counting wisdom teeth, the average person ages 20-39 is missing one tooth, the average 40-49-year old is missing 3.5 teeth, and those aged over 60 are missing 8 teeth – and this is usually because of gum disease.
Gingivitis and Periodontitis
Gums are often overlooked during the brushing process. And, if you do not floss, your gums are even more likely being set up to contract two of the major gum diseases – gingivitis and periodontitis. Both are caused by bacterial infections in the gums with gingivitis being the milder form of disease. The main symptoms of gingivitis are bleeding and swelling of the gums and if left untreated, it can turn into a more dangerous gum disease - periodontitis, which is the leading cause of teeth falling out. There are two types of periodontitis – aggressive and chronic. The aggressive form can cause rapid gum recession during a child’s growing years and is attributable to vitamin deficiency. With chronic periodontitis, a person may go through periods of rapid progression and then periods of remission–which could happen on its own or in response to dental intervention.
Gum Care Tips
Belle Meade Dental and Dr. Cox recommend taking the following steps and precautions to keep your gums healthy:
- Brush twice per day
- Floss once per day
- See your dentist for twice-yearly cleanings
- Don’t smoke
- Use a therapeutic mouthwash
- Use a fluouride toothpaste
- Report any signs of bleeding, swelling or infection in your gums to your dentist and schedule an appointment at the first sight of these symptoms.
Deep Teeth Cleaning Treatment
Deep cleaning can effectively control and reverse gum disease by removing the germs that lead to infection. This deep cleaning involves techniques called scaling and root planing. Scaling involves scraping away plaque and tarter from above and below the gumline. Planing involves smoothing out rough surfaces of teeth which can foster the bacteria growth that leads to infection. Left with clean, smooth teeth, patients will notice reduced redness and inflammation as the gum is better able to attach to the tooth enamel. Dentists may prescribe antibiotics or mouth rinses to kill any remaining bacteria after scaling and planing procedures are performed.