January 5, 2019
Want to enjoy healthy teeth and gums? It’s important to brush 2-3 times daily, floss at least once per day, limit your sugar intake, and see your dentist for checkups and cleanings. You should also avoid tobacco and illicit drugs and drink alcohol only in moderation (if at all). Following these steps will keep your smile looking its best both now and over the years to come.
Why Healthy Gums Are Important
The germs that cause tooth decay have a voracious appetite. Not only do they feast on dental pulp, they also have a taste for the bones and connective tissue that support your teeth.
As these harmful microorganisms spread through your mouth, your immune system reacts by throwing up its defenses. This problem first reveals himself as gingivitis, or tenderness around the gum line.
At this point the problem can usually be corrected through a simple cleaning. Otherwise the invading microorganisms will cause the gums to separate from the teeth, creating pockets of air that breed more infection.
When this happens, gingivitis becomes periodontal disease, a serious condition that requires immediate and aggressive treatment. Otherwise the germs will continue to spread until the patient suffers widespread tooth loss.
Treating Periodontal Disease
The first step towards treating periodontal disease is to perform a scaling and root planing. Here’s how the procedure works:
- A dental professional cleans each tooth thoroughly, removing as much plaque and tartar as possible.
- The roots of the teeth are then “planed,” or polished and smoothed, allowing the gum tissue to reattach itself to the teeth.
- The dentist or hygienist uses antibiotics or topical medication to help control the infection and promote healing.
Sometimes periodontal disease progresses to the point where scaling and root planing are not enough. In such cases, the next step is to perform periodontal surgery.
How Periodontal Surgery Works
The dentist exposes the tooth beyond the gum line to the bone matter itself. This allows him or her to perform added plaque and tartar removal. The surrounding bone is contoured and the gums stitched so that they adhere to the teeth.
Once healing is complete, maintaining the benefits of treatment means using extra care to protect the teeth and gums from reinfection. Generally, people who have suffered from periodontal disease must see their dentist more often than others. They should also take the following precautions:
- Avoid all forms of tobacco and illicit drugs. These substances can have devastating effects, not only on the teeth and gums but the entire body.
- Drink alcohol sparingly or not at all. Alcoholic beverages contain acids that can damage tooth enamel.
- Strictly limit consumption of sweets and simple starches while eating plenty of low-fat protein, calcium, vitamins, and fiber.
- Commit to a healthy lifestyle in general. This includes regular exercise, getting plenty of rest, and limiting the effects of stress.
As with most health conditions, the best way to deal with periodontal disease is to prevent it from ever starting. The small amount of time and effort you put forth will pay for itself many times over, both in terms of better health and a more beautiful smile.
About the Author
Dr. Laura Ryan is an honors graduate of the Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas and a proud member of the American Dental Association (ADA). Dr. Laura is committed to providing the very best care to each and every patient. You can reach her office online or by calling (972) 727-5001.