How Do You Prevent Periodontal Disease from Getting Worse?

Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing is not normal and it’s one of the first signs that your gums are infected with bacteria. If the infection gets worse, it can spread and destroy the support your jawbone provides your teeth. In severe cases, teeth can become loose and have to be extracted.

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

For years, researchers have been trying to figure out why periodontal disease occurs. After much research, it’s now accepted that various bacteria found in dental plaque is the cause. Plaque is a soft, sticky film that builds up on the teeth and contains millions of bacteria. Plaque formation is a natural result of the body’s response to bacterial presence in the gums; in an effort to eliminate the bacteria, the cells in the immune system release substances that can cause the destruction and inflammation of the gums. If you aren’t paying attention to oral health, plaque can build up and eventually spread below the gum line. If left untreated, bacteria will continue to multiply and cause a more serious infection and inflammation of the gums.

Risks and Prevention of Periodontal Disease

Although plaque buildup is the main cause, there are also other factors that can contribute to periodontal disease. These factors can increase the risk or make an infection worse.

Anything that makes it more difficult to properly brush and floss teeth, such as crowded or misaligned teeth, can increase the chances of developing gum disease. Your dentist should show you the best ways to clean your teeth, especially any hard to reach areas. If it’s difficult or impossible to properly clean your teeth due to their alignment, speak with your dentist about orthodontic options to straighten your teeth.

Genetics can play a role and there are some people who have a genetic predisposition to periodontal disease. However, for those who have a genetic predisposition, it doesn’t mean that gum disease is inevitable. With the right care, it’s preventable.

Tobacco use and smoking can also increase the risk for developing periodontal disease. The longer one smokes, the higher the risk. Additionally, if disease is already present, smoking makes it worse. In fact, smoking is one of the main reasons why periodontal disease can be resistant to treatment. Since smokers typically have more tartar on teeth and develop deeper gum pockets, they are more likely to lose more bone as the disease progresses.

Can Advanced Periodontal Disease Be Reversed?

The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. At this stage, the disease is reversible and can be eliminated by a professional cleaning, along with proper at-home dental care. When it advances, it can cause the loss of tissue and the bone that supports the teeth. Once it’s so advanced that teeth may need to be removed, there is no reversing it. It will usually get worse slowly, so regular dental visits can prevent the disease from becoming irreversible. However, there can be periods of rapid progression. Aggressive periodontitis can be a highly destructive form of the disease that will occur in patients who are otherwise healthy. Common features of this advanced form include rapid loss of bone and tissue.

Although plaque buildup is the main cause, there are also other factors that can contribute to periodontal disease.

How Do You Make Your Gums Healthy Again?

To keep your gums healthy or reduce inflammation and infection, follow these tips:

  • Floss at least once per day. This helps remove plaque and food that your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing doesn’t need to be performed at a certain time of day – what’s most important is that you’re doing it regularly.
  • Get regular dental cleanings and checkups with your dentist. The earlier any gum disease is caught, the easier it is to treat. A professional cleaning is the only way to remove tartar and it can get rid of plaque that may have been missed by flossing or brushing.
  • Brush your teeth after every meal and at least twice a day. A toothbrush should have soft bristles and fit comfortably in your mouth. An electric toothbrush with a timer can make it easier to keep track of how long you are brushing. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride and has the ADA seal of approval.
  • Quit Smoking. Since smoking is associated with the onset of gum disease, kicking the habit will help improve your gum health. Quitting will also strengthen the immune system and make it easier to fight off any infection.
  • Use mouthwash. Mouthwash can reduce plaque, prevent gingivitis, and remove debris from the mouth. Keep in mind, mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing and flossing!

Posted In: Oral & Dental Health Tips