According to the Centers for Disease Control, a little less than half of all adults over 30 in U.S., or nearly 65 million people, have some form of gum disease. This ranges from gingivitis to the type of severe periodontitis that can result in the loss of otherwise healthy teeth.
The progression of gum disease can be so subtle that many people ignore it. One classic symptom is threads of blood in the water while the person is brushing their teeth. This is a sign of gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal disease. The person may look in the mirror and notice that their gums are puffy and red, but they do not necessarily hurt. If gingivitis isn’t treated, it can progress to periodontitis where the gums are inflamed and infected. The gums are not only swollen, red and bleeding, but they start to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets that are traps for bacteria. The teeth may hurt when the person eats foods that are sweet, hot or cold. Eventually, the very bone that holds the tooth in its socket is destroyed and the tooth falls out. This not only causes emotional and physical pain but can cost the patient hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to fix.
Gum disease is caused by plaque, which is a viscous film of bacteria and debris that clings to the teeth and eats into the enamel over time.
The first line of defense in preventing gum disease is good oral hygiene. This means brushing the teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristle brush. The brush can be manual, electronic or sonic. Though some people believe that a toothbrush with firm bristles removes more plaque, a soft-bristle brush is gentler on the gums. A fluoride toothpaste is best because fluoride supports the remineralization of the tooth. The tooth enamel loses minerals after a person eats, especially if they’ve eaten acidic or sugary foods. The tongue should also be brushed or scraped with a tongue scraper.
Besides brushing with fluoride toothpaste, the person should floss once a day to get the bits of food and plaque that were missed by the toothbrush. They can follow up flossing with an irrigator and use an antibacterial mouthwash if they wish. A good diet is also important, and the person should eat foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals that strengthen their teeth.
It is also important to visit a dentist such as those at the Toothbar, especially if they’re already at risk for gum disease. Visiting the dentist in the early stages of the disease can stop it from worsening. The doctor cleans the teeth and may need to use special implements to scrape away plaque that has hardened into tartar on the roots of the teeth. The dentists at the Toothbar use X-rays to see if the patient has lost bone in their jaw and prescribe special mouthwashes to treat bacterial infections. Our dentists also prescribe antibiotics.
Located in downtown Austin, The Toothbar is pleased to help residents restore both the looks and health of their teeth with minimal pain. If you believe you have gingivitis or other dental problems, don’t hesitate to call us. Our number is 512.949.8202.
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