According to a study by the CDC, more than 47 percent of American adults have periodontal disease. Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) is an infection of the tissues that surround your teeth and ranges from very mild inflammation to a more severe form of the disease that can result in tooth loss. Because the disease is typically painless, many people are not even aware that they have it. Once a dentist diagnoses the condition, he or she will recommend several treatment options. In addition to those, here are three ways you can help reverse the damage from gum disease.
What Causes Gum Disease?
The root cause of periodontal disease is a sticky, colorless plaque that forms on teeth due to the buildup of bacteria, mucus, and other particles. In its early stages (gingivitis), the gums become swollen due to inflammation from the harmful bacteria. As the condition progresses, it can turn into periodontitis, the most serious form of periodontal disease. Periodontitis causes gums to pull away from the teeth, destroying supporting gum tissue. Because of this, teeth may become loose or fall out completely. While brushing and flossing teeth can help remove the plaque that causes gum disease, any plaque that remains forms a hard tartar that only a dentist is equipped to tackle.
1. Brush and Floss Regularly
As mentioned before, gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar, so dentists recommend brushing twice a day and flossing to prevent the onset of periodontal disease. The use of fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash are added bonuses. Dentists do not, however, encourage brushing directly after meals. Research shows that exposure to acidic foods during mealtime softens the enamel of your teeth, so brushing directly after erodes the enamel even more.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
Consuming the right foods can not only prevent periodontal disease, but may help reverse it as well. Try to incorporate foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which are commonly found in fish oil and flax seed, as this will help reduce the inflammation. Avoid sugary foods as much as possible, as bacteria feeds off sugar to build plaque.
3. Visit a Dentist Regularly
The best way to prevent gum disease altogether is to regularly visit your dentist for a deep cleaning. Your dentist will assess your teeth and gums, provide recommendations for better oral care, and address any problem spots. When your dentist catches the early signs of gum disease, he or she will be better able to reverse the condition.
Gum disease prevention and treatment involves regular checkups with and cleanings from a dentist or dental hygienist, as well as the simple preventive habits you can practice at home.