Preventing Gum Disease

Adults over the age of 35 lose more teeth as a result of periodontal disease than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent periodontal disease is by daily thorough tooth brushing and flossing techniques, along with regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, susceptible people due to genetic make-up still can develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent it from progressing to loss of natural teeth.

Other important factors affecting the health of your gums include

  • Tobacco usage
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Clenching and grinding teeth
  • Medication
  • Poor nutrition

Periodontal Disease & Tobacco

You are probably familiar with the links between tobacco use and lung disease, cancer, and heart disease.

Current studies have now linked periodontal disease with tobacco usage. Patients who smoke heavily have more severe periodontal disease and greater tooth loss than non-smokers. There is a greater incidence of calculus formation on teeth, deeper pockets between gums and teeth as well as greater loss of the bone and fibers that hold teeth in your mouth. In addition, your chance of developing oral cancer increases with the use of all forms of tobacco.

Chemicals in tobacco such as nicotine and tar slow down healing and the predictability of success following periodontal treatment.

Problems caused by tobacco include
Lung disease, heart disease, cancer, mouth sores, gum recession, loss of bone and teeth, bad breath, tooth staining, less success with periodontal treatment, and with dental implants.

Quitting tobacco will reduce the chance of developing the above problems.

Women & Periodontal Health

Throughout a woman’s life, hormonal changes affect tissue throughout the body. Fluctuations in levels occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. At these times, the chance of periodontal disease may increase, requiring special care of your oral health.

Pregnancy

Your gums and teeth are also affected during pregnancy. Between the second and eighth month, your gums may also swell, bleed, and become red or tender. Large lumps may appear as a reaction to local irritants. However, these growths are generally painless and not cancerous. They may require professional removal, but usually disappear after pregnancy.

Periodontal health should be part of your prenatal care. Any infections during pregnancy, including periodontal infections, can place a baby’s health at risk.

The best way to prevent periodontal infections is to begin with healthy gums and continue to maintain your oral health with proper home care and careful periodontal monitoring.

Oral Contraceptives

Swelling, bleeding, and tenderness of the gums may also occur when you are taking oral contraceptives, which are synthetic hormones.

You must mention any prescriptions you are taking, including oral contraceptives, prior to medical or dental treatment. This will help eliminate the risk of drug interactions, such as antibiotics with oral contraceptives – where the effectiveness of the contraceptive can be lessened.

Menopause

Changes in the look and feel of your mouth may occur if you are menopausal or post-menopausal. They include feeling pain and burning in your gum tissue and salty, peppery, or sour tastes.

Careful oral hygiene at home and professional cleaning may relieve these symptoms. There are also saliva substitutes to treat the effects of dry mouth.