While we know eating right, tossing out the cigarettes, and “sweating to the oldies” are all part of our typical New Year’s resolution to lead a healthier lifestyle, many of us are not aware of the overall health benefits of taking good care of our teeth and gums.
Tooth decay, plaque and periodontal (gum) disease is a health problem that doesn’t normally get a lot of New Year’s resolution attention. In fact, although 80 percent of adults have some form of gum disease, many are not aware of the diagnosis, symptoms or its lasting effects. Poor oral health, gum disease, cavities, plaque buildup, etc., can contribute to other problems in the body. For example, people with gum disease are more likely to develop diabetes or heart disease, and pregnant women increase their risk of delivering low-birth weight and premature babies.
Causes & Symptoms
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the soft and hard structures supporting your teeth.
In its early stage, called gingivitis, gums become swollen and red due to inflammation and teeth and gums often bleed while brushing, which is the body’s natural response to the presence of harmful bacteria.
In the more series form of periodontal disease, called periodontitis, gums pull away from the tooth as infection settles in, supporting gum tissues are destroyed, supportive jaw bone can be lost, and your teeth will loosen and eventually fall out.
Diagnosing Periodontal Disease
Periodontists are dentists who specialize in the treatment and prevention of periodontal (gum) disease. They are experts in the treatment of oral inflammation, plaque and bacteria. Periodontists are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures, and dental implants.
Make it your New Year’s resolution to take better care of your mouth and teeth. Here are a few additional tips:
• Brush twice daily: Your mouth is the front line for battling the bacteria that damages not only your teeth and gums, but also other organs and systems in your body.
• Floss daily: Your toothbrush can’t reach between your teeth, which allow the bacterial film to build up. Daily flossing cleans the spaces between teeth, depriving bacteria of a safe haven.
• Have at least two dental cleanings a year: Your dental hygienist supplements your daily brushing and flossing by cleaning the pockets where bacteria may escape your own routine. And the hygienist provides a vital screening for problems between dental checkups.
• Get a regular annual dental checkup: Preventative dentistry is better for your health – and much cheaper – than dealing with major dental problems. Many people never visit a dentist until teeth require a root canal or even extraction, problems that are expensive to fix, and affect other teeth.
• Visit a periodontist for gum evaluation: All adult patients should have full periodontal examination with charting accomplished once a year. This important assessment provides you and your dentist with a baseline measurement to record the pocket depth (space between your teeth and gums), the presence of gum disease, gum recession, bleeding, tooth mobility and plaque buildup.
• Eat, drink and be wary: The enemy of oral health is the group of natural bacteria that thrive on sugar and dissolve the protective enamel covering the teeth. Refined sugar is present in an overwhelming number of foods, and is part of the modern diabetes “epidemic.” This year, make a commitment to tooth- and health-conscious eating habits.
• Consider a new and stronger smile: Getting dental implants and crowns for missing or broken teeth isn’t a luxury; these problems can have a domino effect that will leave you with shifting teeth, a vulnerability to gum disease and other growing damage. These necessary restorations will improve your quality-of-life and your long-term health.
Improving your dental health and preventing tooth decay can have a larger health impact than just a healthy mouth and brighter teeth.
For more information, visit www.DrKarlSmith.com.