Unless you’re a kid expecting a visit from the tooth fairy, it’s safe to say that no one wants to lose a tooth. Yet, if you have untreated gum disease, tooth loss could be in your future.
In fact, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research says gum disease is the top cause of adult tooth loss in the United States. And that’s just one serious risk associated with this very common oral health problem.
Without proper treatment, gum disease can lead to a host of medical problems. At The Glen Dental, Aman Bhullar, DMD, and Donald Pepper, DDS, want every patient at their San Jose, California, practice to understand these risks, so they can play a more proactive role in preventing disease and maintaining their healthy smiles.
Here’s what you should know about the dangers of gum disease — and what you can do to prevent it.
The ABCs of gum disease
Gum disease happens when bacteria on the surfaces of your teeth migrate below the gum line, where brushing and flossing can’t reach. These bacteria thrive in sticky plaque and hard tartar deposits. They also feed off the foods you eat — especially foods high in sugars.
As they multiply, the bacteria give off toxins that irritate gum tissue, causing the tissue to move away from the tooth surfaces. This creates tiny pockets that allow the bacteria to move farther down the tooth surface, colonizing deeper layers of gum tissue. Without prompt treatment, infections can quickly set in, and eventually, the entire tooth can be compromised.
Health hazards of gum disease
Gum disease is a major cause of adult tooth loss, but once the bacteria spread to other areas of your body, it could cause a lot of other serious problems, too. Research shows gum disease may be linked with problems like:
That means that by preventing gum disease, you could be reducing your risks of these other issues, as well.
Preventing gum disease
The best way to prevent gum disease is to have regular dental checkups twice each year. Regular checkups give our team a chance to look for very early signs of gum disease, so you can have treatment before the disease causes major damage. Plus, the hygienist will use special techniques to remove plaque and tartar that can harbor disease-causing bacteria.
Your home care routine plays an important role in preventing disease, too. Brushing twice a day and flossing at least once each day help get rid of plaque and bacteria between professional cleanings. Antibacterial mouth rinses can help get rid of hard-to-reach germs.
You can also reduce the risk of gum disease by quitting smoking and by avoiding foods that appeal to bacteria, including foods high in sugars and sticky foods that cling to your tooth surfaces. Opting for tooth-friendly foods, like calcium-rich dairy products and fresh fruits and vegetables support your gum health while preventing the buildup of plaque.
Enjoy a lifetime of healthy smiles
In its earliest stages, gum disease typically causes very few symptoms, or no symptoms at all. That means it’s easy for the disease to progress untreated — and it’s also why it’s so important to have regular checkups and cleanings.
Don’t let gum disease threaten your health. If it’s been awhile since your last checkup, call our office or book an appointment online, and let us help you maintain your beautiful, healthy smile.