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From a young age, people are taught about the importance of taking care of their teeth. They are taught to brush and floss to prevent cavities and decay from occurring. Of course, cavities and decay can lead to painful toothaches, which are something that everyone wishes to avoid. Unfortunately, however, poor oral hygiene can ultimately lead to much more than a toothache and some painful visits to the dentist.
Periodontal disease often groups both gingivitis and periodontitis together. Periodontal disease, however, often refers to the more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Gingivitis can progress into periodontitis if it is left untreated, although periodontitis can occur separately from gingivitis as well. Periodontitis occurs from the buildup of plaque and tartar as with gingivitis, although in this severe form, the ligaments, jaw, and teeth are all affected in addition to the gums. Those with periodontitis may have loose teeth, tooth loss, a change in tooth spacing, pus between teeth and gums, as well as bad breath and swollen gums. This form of gum disease can lead to serious discomfort in the mouth, which may affect a person’s ability to chew and eat normally. Advanced gum disease can also affect a person’s overall health. In recent years, there have been links discovered between heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory disease and periodontitis. To prevent periodontitis from occurring and increasing the risks of these diseases, regular dental checkups and cleanings are a necessity. Those who have periodontitis will need to be treated by a periodontist who specializes in treating advanced gum disease.
- Periodontal Disease: The Disease, the Immune Response, the Clinical Treatment
- Periodontal Disease
- Gum Disease and its Causes
- Diabetes and Periodontal (Gum) Disease
- Oral Health: A Window to Your Overall Health
- Common Oral Health Concerns
- Dental Health and Heart Health
- Types of Gum Disease
- Periodontal Disease in Cats and Dogs
- What Is Gum Disease?
- Blue Bell Periodontists
- Dentists in Blue Bell
- Blue Bell Cosmetic Dentistry
Gingivitis is a common disease of the gums that results from poor oral hygiene. It is a form of gum disease that if left untreated can progress to more serious periodontal disease. Gingivitis begins when plaque hardens into tartar beneath the gum line. Gingivitis in its early stages may cause individuals to have gums that bleed when brushing or are red and swollen. Their teeth may be sensitive to hot and cold foods, and they may have bad breath that does not go away. In advanced stages, gingivitis can cause teeth to become loose as the infection causes the gum and the bone to separate. This can cause a person to lose an infected tooth as well as nearby teeth. Although gingivitis is painful in itself, the health of the mouth can also affect other areas of the body. Advanced gum disease, which often first begins with gingivitis, has been linked to health problems such as heart disease and diabetes. To treat gingivitis, proper oral hygiene must be practiced in addition to the treatment advised by a dentist or periodontist. If gingivitis is detected early, it is often fairly easy to treat and no permanent damage is done.
- Gingivitis Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
- Gingivitis and Vascular Changes
- Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis (PDF)
- Infections of the Teeth, Gingivae, and Jaws
- What Problems Could My Dental Health Cause?
- About Gingivitis
- What Is Gingivitis?
How to Protect Your Mouth
Brushing Your Teeth
One of the most important steps that a person can take to ensure good oral health as well as overall health is to regularly brush their teeth. The American Dental Association states that teeth should be brushed twice a day at the very least. Some dentists may recommend more frequent brushing, such as after each meal, to patients fighting off gum disease or those who are at high risk for developing cavities. When brushing, the goal is to remove all food from the teeth as well as any plaque that may have developed on the teeth. Brushing away this food and plaque frequently will decrease the chances of it turning into tartar beneath the gums. To brush properly, a person should apply a toothpaste recommended by their dentist to the brush. After toothpaste is applied, hold the toothbrush at an angle of 45 degrees along the gums. Then, move the brush in short sweeping motions back and forth for approximately two minutes until the top, inside, and back of each tooth has been brushed adequately. Toothbrushes should be replaced every three months or when the bristles begin to wear down.
- The Importance of Brushing and Flossing Your Teeth
- The History of the Toothbrush and the Proper Way to Brush (PDF)
- Proper Brushing (PDF)
- Top Teeth Tips for Parents
- Oral Health
Another important step to take for proper oral hygiene is to floss regularly. Flossing helps to catch any plaque or food particles that may not be removed with brushing. Most dentists recommend that their patients floss at least once a day, at bedtime. To properly floss, the floss should be around 18 inches in length so that it is able to properly be wrapped between the thumbs and index fingers. The floss should then be placed between each tooth and gently moved back and forth until plaque or food particles have been removed from in between the teeth. Brushing and flossing regularly will greatly decrease a person’s chances of developing a form of gum disease, and it will also improve their overall health.
- Three Tips for Flossing Your Teeth
- Health: Taking Good Care of Your Teeth (PDF)
- How to Floss (PDF)
- Flossing and Children
- How to Floss Properly
- Early Dental Care (PDF)
- Proper Flossing (PDF)
- Flossing and Brushing
Regular Visits to the Dentist
While brushing and flossing are your main defense against tooth and gum disease, they cannot be a substitute for regular visits with your dentist. Your dental professional has been trained to identify issues such as plaque and tartar build up – which cannot be removed by brushing – and use special tools to scrape and polish your teeth back to a pearly white. They also inspect your head, neck, face, throat, and tongue for any unusual changes such as swelling, and look for any signs of cancer. Although a visit with a dentist may be uncomfortable for some, the benefits most certainly outweigh the risks of not going.