Periodontal disease is an epidemic in the United States. According to recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), half of all American adults currently suffer from periodontal disease, and half of those have periodontitis, the more serious form of the disease. That’s nearly 65 million American adults with periodontitis!
And that’s only part of the problem. Ongoing studies and research are showing a significant link between periodontal disease and other serious health conditions, including strokes, heart disease, and diabetes. Periodontal disease has also been linked to complications during pregnancy and babies being born with low birth weights.
In many cases, periodontal disease can be prevented. As a part of your healthcare team, Fort Worth Cosmetic & Family Dentistry is committed to helping prevent periodontal disease whenever possible, and one of the ways we stand by that commitment is making sure that each of our patients is well-educated on the causes of periodontal disease and the steps that you can take to prevent this disease – or at least halt its progression.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
The first step in preventing periodontal disease is having a better understanding of it. Many people have the misperception that periodontal disease is an inevitable condition that makes your gums bleed when you brush.
First, gum disease is not inevitable. It does tend to run in some families, so you might have a genetic predisposition to it. Even so, we may still be able to prevent it with extra care and vigilance.
Second, gum disease doesn’t just affect your gums. It also attacks your bone tissue. As your body reacts to the bacterial infection, your gums are the first tissue affected. They become red and inflamed in response to the infection. Next, your bone begins to recede and pockets form, creating spaces between your teeth and your gums.
As more of your tooth is exposed, plaque and bacteria increase, worsening the problem. With the continued loss of bone, your tooth will become loose, and eventually, you are likely to lose the tooth. Periodontal disease is the number one reason that American adults lose teeth.
So How Do We Prevent It?
You’ve probably been hearing about the first steps in preventing periodontal disease since you were a young child – brushing and flossing your teeth.
While most people brush and floss on a daily basis, many aren’t brushing using good technique. It’s also important to use the right tools for the job. Although toothbrushes with firm bristles are available, we generally don’t recommend them. Brushing too hard or with toothbrushes that have firm bristles isn’t good for your gums and can actually contribute to gum recession. Using a soft-bristled brush and only mild pressure will successfully dislodge the plaque without damaging your gums.
Fort Worth dentist Dr. Nikki Green, Dr Ryan Knight or your dental hygienist is happy to give you a hands-on demonstration to make sure that you are brushing and flossing properly. We can also provide you with the correct type of dental floss according to your needs. When faced with the huge selection of dental floss at the store, it can be overwhelming, and we can help you sort through the marketing buzzwords to pick the right type of floss.
The second main part of your periodontal disease prevention program is routine cleanings at our Fort Worth dental office. For most of our patients, we recommend cleanings at least every six months. Even when you’re brushing properly, these cleanings are necessary to make sure that all the plaque is removed from between your teeth and beneath the gumline.
As mentioned above, gum disease is an infection that creates inflammation in your gum tissue. Keeping your immune system in good shape is essential to fight off the bacteria that contribute to the disease. To keep your immune system up, eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise, find ways to either reduce stress (or at least cope with it better), and get plenty of rest. We know that this can be more easily said than done, but so many systems in your body rely on a healthy immune system, that it’s really worth the effort to plan ahead.
Call Us to Start Your Prevention Program
Your periodontal health is important to your overall health, and we want to help you make it a priority.
Call our Fort Worth dental office today at (817) 737-6601 to schedule an examination and consultation with Dr. Nikki Green or Dr Ryan Knight and find out how to start your own personalized prevention program.