Cleanings and Dental Check-ups
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease begins with the formation of hard and soft deposits on the surface of the teeth. Over time, a build-up of bacteria (plaque) collects at the gumline, eventually hardening on the teeth into calcium deposits (tartar).
With poor oral care, these bacteria can cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), penetrate the gumline and finally spread into the underlying bone (periodontitis). If not treated, periodontal disease can lead to complete destruction of the tooth's supporting tissues, abscesses and tooth loss.
The warning signs of gum disease include:
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Gums that pull away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together
According to some estimates, as many as 75 percent of adults over the age of 30 may suffer from some degree of gum disease. But with proper oral care, gum disease can be controlled or even reversed.
Gums and Overall Health
We all know that prevention is one of the keys to maintaining overall health.
We exercise and watch what we eat to help reduce our risk of heart attack, stroke and certain cancers. In much the same way, we should take good care of our oral health to prevent gum disease and tooth loss.
Why is this so important? The reasons are much more than cosmetic. While we once believed the worst outcome of gum disease was tooth loss, we now know that oral health matters from head to toe.
Periodontal (gum and bone) disease may be a risk factor for a number of serious health conditions. In recent studies, gum disease has been linked to:
- Heart Disease and Stroke
- Pneumonia and Other Respiratory Diseases
- Premature, Low Birth Rate Deliveries
How is this possible? For those with gum disease, the simple act of brushing the teeth or chewing gum can injure gum tissue, allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream. These bacteria travel to other parts of the body, potentially worsening or causing various health problems.
What Can You Do?
If you have, or are at risk for one or more of these health conditions, it is particularly important to pay attention to you oral health. The good news is that with regular, proper oral care, gum disease can be controlled or even reversed. Visiting your dental hygienist on a regular basis is one of the most important steps you can take to maintain or improve you oral health.
Here's what you can expect from your dental hygienist:
- He or she will start by reviewing your medical history with you to make sure there are no medical conditions that could influence your treatment.
- The next step is assessing the condition of your gums, teeth and other areas of your mouth. Any areas of concern will then be referred to your dentist or physician.
- You are then ready to have your teeth cleaned (called "scaling") to remove plaque build-up. This is done using hand instruments or a vibrating ultrasonic instrument.
- Your teeth may be polished to remove stains. If needed, you may receive a fluoride treatment to strengthen teeth, or other agents to desensitize them.
- Based on the condition of your teeth and gums, your dental hygienist will customize an oral hygiene program for your care between visits and may advise on other matters relating to oral health, such as reducing sugar intake and smoking cessation.
It is important to make your personal oral hygiene program - developed together by you and your dental hygienist - a daily habit between office visits to control or reverse gum disease.
Less than five minutes, twice a day, is all it takes to maintain or improve oral hygiene. It's never too late - or too early - to develop good habits and remember to to visit Dr. Nasralla at least twice a year for thorough check-ups.