The Importance of Healthy Gums
Despite the medical and technological advancements that Americans enjoy, many suffer from some form of gum disease. Most people know very little about the symptoms and treatment of gum disease, and about 39 percent of Americans do not visit the dentist regularly. Harmful bacteria that collect on teeth can lead to gum disease, which is the primary cause of tooth loss.
Although untreated gum disease symptoms could mean the loss of teeth, salvaging them could be as easy as brushing and flossing daily, and getting professional cleanings twice a year.
Starting Early Is Important for Healthy Gums
Good dental health can begin before a child has their first tooth. Dental professionals recommend using an infant gum massager or a damp cloth to wipe the child’s gums. When the teeth come in, they should be brushed twice a day using a soft bristled toothbrush. Although baby teeth eventually fall out, the roots of the adult teeth are growing underneath, and the baby teeth serve as placeholders for the adult teeth that will replace them. The baby teeth also aid the child with abilities such as chewing and speaking clearly. Flossing should begin once the gaps close between the child’s teeth.
Gum infection, gingivitis, and even periodontal disease can begin during childhood. As part of preventative treatment, children should receive a comprehensive periodontal examination during their routine dental visits.
Understanding Gum Disease
Bacteria and other particles collect on the teeth to form plaque. Regular maintenance including brushing and flossing can remove some of the plaque, however, the portion that is not removed stiffens to form tartar, which can only be removed during a professional cleaning. In the meantime, that plaque and tartar can cause inflammation in the gums that is known as gingivitis. Common symptoms of gingivitis include irritation, redness, swelling, and even bleeding of the gums. While the symptoms may be mild, it’s important to treat gingivitis before it leads to serious gum disease (periodontal disease) and tooth loss. Untreated gingivitis can induce periodontitis, an infection that damages the soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth. Gum infections occur in spaces called “pockets” that store bacteria; this allows the plaque to spread below the gum line. As the immune system fights to rid the body of infection, it attacks the bone and tissue; this is what leads to the loss of teeth.
Gum Disease Symptoms
According to the American Dental Association (ADA) the following symptoms are warning signs for gum disease:
• gums that bleed easily
• red, swollen, tender gums
• gums that have pulled away from the teeth
• persistent bad breath or bad taste
• permanent teeth that are loose or separating
• any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
• any change in the fit of partial dentures
The ADA also lists risk factors for developing gum disease:
• poor oral hygiene
• smoking or chewing tobacco
• crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
• medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs,
cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral
Treatment for Gum Disease Symptoms
The treatment for gum disease symptoms can vary depending upon the extent of the issue. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing teeth twice daily and flossing between teeth once a day. However, that’s not enough.
Routine check-ups and professional dental cleanings are necessary to prevent plaque buildup. If gingivitis is allowed to progress into periodontal disease, treatment becomes more extensive in order to address the problem. In the past, invasive surgical procedures such as bone and tissues grafts were used to rectify the problem. Advancements in dental technology have led to more precise alternatives such as the LANAP® protocol.
LANAP® for Gum Disease Treatment
LANAP® has been cleared by the FDA and it’s one of the most successful protocols for the treatment of gum disease by targeting the source of the inflammation without harming or removing any healthy gum tissue. Through LAR (Laser Assisted Regeneration), LANAP® promotes bone growth, decreases pocket depth and tooth loss, and prevents the need for surgery or sutures.
Healthy gums are important in both childhood and adulthood, so it is important to check for gum disease symptoms, signs of gingivitis, gum infection, and even signs of periodontal disease. Keeping up with your regular dental routine and visits to your dentist are the best ways to ensuring healthy gums.