Periodontal Maintenance and Care
Are you brushing and flossing regularly? You may think that's all you need to do to keep your gums healthy, but you could be at risk for gum disease without even realizing it. In this post, we'll tell you what puts you at risk for gum disease and how to protect yourself. Karl Hoffman Dentistry is here to help you keep your smile healthy and beautiful. Keep reading to learn more!
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection that affects the gums and tissues surrounding the teeth. It's one of the most common dental problems in the United States, affecting more than half of all adults over 30. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss, bone damage, and even heart problems.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is caused by plaque buildup on your teeth. Bacteria in the mouth break down food particles left behind after eating into acids that irritate gums over time, creating pockets between the teeth where plaque can quickly accumulate. If you don't brush or floss regularly enough to remove this plaque, it will harden into tartar (also known as calculus). Tartar makes it easier for bacteria growing underneath the surface of your gums to enter your bloodstream through inflamed tissue surrounding your teeth. Once there, these bacteria have a greater chance of causing infection elsewhere in the body because they're able to avoid being attacked by white blood cells.
Risk Factors for Gum Disease
Several factors can put you at risk of developing gum disease, including your age, genetic predisposition, and smoking habits. Below you will find more in-depth descriptions of each of the factors.
If your parents or siblings have had gum disease, you're at a greater risk of developing it yourself. In fact, research has shown that genetics account for more than 80 percent of the likelihood that an individual will develop periodontal disease! So if you suffer from a genetic predisposition to gum disease and haven't been diligent about practicing good oral hygiene, be sure to let us know so we can provide treatment as soon as possible.
Smoking is one of the most decisive risk factors for gum disease because smokers often experience gingivitis - a form of early-stage gum inflammation caused by plaque buildup - and other symptoms even before they notice significant health problems such as heart disease or lung cancer. So if you're a smoker, be sure to see us for regular check-ups and cleanings to help keep your gums healthy.
People who suffer from autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop gum disease than individuals without these conditions. Talk with your doctor about the possible risks of gum disease if you've been diagnosed with an immune disorder.
Hormones can have a significant impact on periodontal health. Women are more likely to develop gum disease during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause because hormonal changes make it easier for bacteria to attach to the gums. Pregnancy often causes women's gums to become swollen and inflamed - typical signs of early-stage gum disease - because their immune system is less efficient at fighting off bacterial infections due to increased progesterone levels in the body throughout that period.
Poor Oral Hygiene
The most common cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene, which allows plaque and bacteria to accumulate on teeth over time. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day may not be enough if you have bad habits such as crunching on hard candy or chewing tobacco products. See us for a professional dental cleaning and dental exam at least every six months to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
If you want to learn more, please contact us at 360-539-3429 or visit our Karl Hoffman Dentistry clinic!