Alarmingly, gum disease is on the rise in America, as over half the adult population now suffer from the condition. It’s bigger than just an oral health issue, though. As you continue reading, you’ll discover how untreated gum disease can lead to some life-threatening issues and what you can do to protect yourself. Additionally, you’ll learn about the treatment options your dentist in Columbia provides.
How Gum Disease Develops?
Oral bacteria are always present in your mouth, but when you consume food or beverages, any leftover particles can attract the microorganisms to the area. As they feed on the debris, the bacteria exponentially replicate, and over time, several types can mix with saliva to form dental plaque. The clear-sticky substance that clings to the teeth and along the gum line can go on to wreak havoc.
If dental care isn’t a priority, plaque can eventually work its way beneath the gums to form germ pockets and cause bleeding. This is the first stage of gum disease, called gingivitis.
The problems associated with the condition aren’t just limited to your oral health, though. Eventually, the inflamed blood can travel from your gums to other parts of your body, which can contribute to life-threatening conditions like hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and liver dysfunction. Therefore, your gum health definitely shouldn’t be ignored.
The explanation of how gum disease starts provides clues for how to prevent it. The primary means of defense is to make your dental health a priority, which should involve the following steps:
- Brushing and flossing at least two times a day to remove debris and prevent plaque buildup
- Visiting your dentist semi-annually for checkups and cleanings, and every three months if you have a history of cavities
- Monitoring your consumption of foods and beverages high in sugar, as it’s the primary sustenance for oral bacteria
Steps for Treating Gum Disease
If you develop gum disease, the good news is that your local dentist can help you recover. By seeking treatment while the disease is in the earlier stages, you may only need some pointers on how to better perform oral hygiene and more frequent cleanings.
For more severe cases, a two-step procedure called a scaling and root planing may be required. Here’s the purpose of each phase:
- Scaling – Using special tools, the dentist will clean beneath the gum line to remove plaque.
- Root Planing – To prevent any new plaque accumulation, the dentist will smooth the roots of your teeth.
Still, there are other options, which include antibiotic therapy to eradicate any remaining oral bacteria, and precision soft-tissue laser treatment to carefully remove the decayed tissue.
While the best way to treat a problem is to prevent it from happening, it’s comforting to know that even if you develop gum disease, there is expert help available for you.
About the Author
Dr. Philip A. Batson is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry. An avid learner who stays abreast of the latest changes in dentistry, he maintains professional membership with such organizations as the Missouri Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry. Dr. Batson effectively treats gum disease at Columbia Healthy Smiles, and he can be reached for more information through his website.