gum health

Let’s Talk Gum Health

gum healthPoway and Rancho Bernardo, CA

Most people think only about their teeth when oral hygiene comes to mind. However, gum health is just as important as preventing cavities in your teeth. Do you know the condition your gums are in? Everyone should know the answer to this question, and if you don’t, it’s time to see your Poway dentist at Smiles by Dr. Cook for a checkup. In the meantime, let’s talk about gum health, how to tell if there is a problem, and what you should do about it.

Unless your dentist has diagnosed you with gum disease, you probably wouldn’t know whether you had it, although studies conclude that almost half of adults in the U.S. have some form of gum disease. The most common signs of gum disease include bad breath and red, swollen gums that bleed easily. Do you ever see a tinge of blood in the sink after you’ve brushed your teeth? This isn’t normal, and you shouldn’t ignore it. Healthy gums should not bleed. If, however, you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to talk to your dentist as soon as possible and receive an evaluation of your oral health. After all, gum disease worsens over time if treatment is not sought. More advanced cases of gum disease results in receding gums, sensitive teeth, teeth that become loose or that become so loose that they require extraction.

What type of treatment is used to treat gum disease?

Treating gum disease requires a unique approach for each individual. A mild case may not require the same treatment as someone dealing with an advanced case of the disease. Here is a look, however, at some of the most common treatment options for gum disease, depending on which stage of the disease you are experiencing. Deep dental cleanings often are required to remove buildup that resides below the gum line, while laser periodontal therapy may be needed to treat advanced stages of the disease.

Stage 1: Gingivitis

Having the patient adapt to a healthy oral care routine at home, which includes brushing twice a day, and flossing daily, can usually treat gingivitis. While flossing often is seen as an afterthought or something that isn’t all that important, it actually is as important as brushing your teeth. Flossing removes food particles and bacteria buildup from between your teeth and under your gum line. By skipping this vital part of your oral hygiene routine, you essentially are increasing the risk that your gingivitis becomes worse, advancing to gum disease.

A thorough, deep cleaning known as scaling and root planing may or may not be necessary at this point, depending on the level of plaque that has accumulated on your teeth and around your gum line. Regular dental checkups and cleanings once every six months is a must to stop gingivitis and ward off gum disease.

Stage 2 and 3: Slight to Moderate Gum Disease

As stage 2 of gum disease develops, the swelling and bleeding of the gums become more apparent, and may or may not lead to discomfort. This stage presents more noticeable symptoms of the disease, yet there still could be much more significant damage going on underneath your gum line that could only be seen by a thorough checkup at the dentist and X-rays may be necessary to assess the health of your underlying jawbone. Only a dental checkup can determine the severity and best course of treatment at this point. A dental cleaning, and a good regimen of at-home oral care could stop the disease from getting worse. Additional treatments at the dentist’s office may also be needed.

Stage 4: Advanced Gum Disease

At this stage, the infection migrates below the gum line, affecting the health of your jawbone, and compromising the ligaments that hold your teeth in place, which significantly increases the risk of tooth loss. Teeth are likely to lead to discomfort, making it difficult or even unbearable to chew food. Treatment at this stage is a necessity to restore your health and your smile. In some cases, laser gum treatment may be necessary to remove diseased tissue and facilitate the healing process.

What happens if I ignore my gum disease?

Like any other health condition, ignoring it won’t make the problem go away, it only worsens the case instead. Your dentist in Poway Dr. Nicol Cook can prescribe the best course of treatment for your particular stage of gum disease. It’s best to receive treatment as soon as possible, as well as adhere to the recommended oral hygiene habits to keep your gum disease from returning. Not only does gum disease lead to discomfort in your teeth and gums, but also it leads to tooth loss, which could cause you to feel embarrassed about your smile. Did we mention the health consequences of not treating gum disease? Untreated gum disease increases one’s risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It’s best to have it treated right away if you suspect that you may have this disease.

To learn more about gum disease, or to schedule a consultation to see if you have it, please contact Smiles By Dr. Cook today or call (858) 673-0141. We welcome patients of Poway and Rancho Bernardo, California.