Preventing Gum Disease
Clarke V. Filippi, DDS – Modesto & Central Valley CAAdults over the age of 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and Periodontal Diseases is by daily thorough tooth brushing and flossing techniques as well as regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people still can develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progress.
Important factors affecting the health of your gums include:
- History of past gum disease
- Tobacco usage
- Specific genetic mutation
- Clenching and grinding teeth
- Poor nutrition
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Periodontal Disease & Tobacco
You are probably familiar with the links between tobacco use and lung disease, cancer, and heart disease. Current studies show tobacco usage is a significant risk factor for periodontal disease. Smokers may be even more severe than those of non-users of tobacco. There is a greater incidence of calculus (tartar) formation on teeth, deeper pockets between gums and teeth as well as greater loss of the bone and fibers that hold teeth in your mouth. In addition, tobacco usage increases the risk of developing oral cancers. Chemicals in tobacco such as nicotine and tar also slow down healing and decrease the predictability of success following periodontal and dental implant treatment.
Dr. Filippi recommends all patients quit smoking and tobacco use.
Diabetes & Oral Health
Individuals suffering from diabetes, especially uncontrolled diabetics, have a higher risk of developing infections such as periodontal disease. These infections may impair your ability to process insulin, resulting in greater difficulty with controlling your diabetes. Periodontal diseases are more severe than those of a non-diabetic and treatment is more difficult. Please inform your health professional about the current status of you diabetes. Finally, you can help resist periodontal infections by maintaining control of your blood sugar levels.
Women & Periodontal Health
Throughout a woman’s life, hormonal changes affect tissue throughout the body. Fluctuations in levels occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. At these times, the chance of periodontal disease may increase, requiring special care of your oral health.
During puberty, there is increased production of sex hormones. These higher levels increase gum sensitivity and lead to greater irritations from plaque and food particles. The gums can become swollen, turn red, and feel tender.
Similar symptoms occasionally may appear several days before menstruation. There can be bleeding of the gums, bright red swelling between the teeth and gum, or sores on the inside of the cheek. The symptoms clear up once the period has started. As the amount of sex hormones decrease, so do these problems.
Your gums and teeth can also be affected during pregnancy. Between the second and eighth month, your gums may also swell, bleed, and become red or tender. Large lumps may appear as a reaction to local irritants. However, these growths are generally painless and not cancerous. They typically require professional removal. Periodontal health should be part of your prenatal care. Studies show that untreated periodontal disease may increase the risk of preterm, low birthweight pregnancies. The best way to prevent periodontic infections is to begin with healthy gums and continue to maintain your oral health with proper home care and careful periodontal monitoring.
Swelling, bleeding, and tenderness of the gums may also occur when you are taking oral contraceptives, which are synthetic hormones. Please indicate any prescriptions you are taking, including oral contraceptives, prior to medical or dental treatment. This will help eliminate the risk of drug interactions, such as antibiotics with oral contraceptives, where the effectiveness of the contraceptive can be reduced.
Changes in the look and feel of your mouth may occur if you are menopausal or post-menopausal. They include feeling pain and burning in your gum tissue and salty, peppery, or sour tastes. Careful oral hygiene at home and professional cleaning may relieve these symptoms. There are also saliva substitutes to treat the effects of dry mouth.