Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss among adults. As you age, the chances of developing gum disease increase significantly, but even young adults are at risk of poor gum health if they don’t take care of their teeth and gums and see their dentist regularly. At La Jolla Dental Image in La Jolla, California, we address and prevent periodontal disease with careful, gentle treatment.
Signs of Gum Disease
Gum disease advances in stages, but it always starts small, with a build-up of excess plaque on your teeth near the gum line. This plaque carries bacteria that will leave the gums infected. It can be difficult for the untrained eye to recognize the signs of gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Once the disease has progressed, though, it will be clear that something is not right with your oral health.
The most common symptoms include:
- Gum recession
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
Gum disease cannot reverse itself or heal on its own. It is necessary for a dentist to directly treat this overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth, ideally before the disease destroys the bone that supports your teeth, damages the soft tissue, and allows teeth to separate from the gums and be lost.
How Gum Disease Treatment Works
Gum disease treatment is also called periodontal therapy. It can take several forms, depending on the severity of your condition and the amount of intervention needed to correct the problem.
Deep cleaning, known as soft tissue management or scaling and planing, removes decay and bacteria that is trapped in the pockets between the teeth and gums. The scaler removes tartar from below the gum line while the root planing smooths irregular or bumpy areas, eliminating the surfaces that plaque likes to attach to.
The removal of plaque and bacteria is only the first step in this disease treatment. To promote the reattachment of healthy gums and prevent the problem from developing again, it is necessary to follow your La Jolla dentist’s instructions for home care and follow-up visits. This may also include a course of antibiotics to help fight the infection, an antimicrobial rinse, mouthwash, or topical treatments.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
Gum disease is not inevitable. In fact, it is preventable, though some people do have a slightly elevated risk of developing the problem. Plaque is the top cause of gum disease, but genetics also play a role. If you use tobacco or take certain medications that can cause dry mouth, your risk will increase. Hormone fluctuations in women can also lead to temporary gum inflammation.
If you take good care of your teeth and gums by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting your La Jolla dentist every six months for professional cleanings and exams, you can keep your gums healthy, strong, and disease-free.
If you avoid the dentist because you have dental anxiety or don’t think it’s necessary to go every six months, remember that there is no substitute for the practiced eye of an experienced dentist, who can recognize early signs of gum disease immediately. During dental exams, your dentist will check the color and firmness of your gums, look for pockets that are developing between the teeth and gums, and review x-rays for any problems that could be festering under the gum line.
Gum disease will not go away on its own. It will only get worse and, eventually, destroy your teeth and oral health. Be proactive about your dental care. Contact La Jolla Dental Image in La Jolla, California to schedule your cleaning and exam, or to schedule an appointment for treatment.