3 Things You Should Know About Gum Disease

Just as a strong foundation is important for a sturdy house, healthy gums are important to support healthy teeth! But unfortunately, roughly half of adults in the U.S. are living with an aggressive form of periodontal disease that has the potential to do some serious damage to your smile.

In fact, unmanaged gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the U.S., according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research! And even if gum disease doesn’t lead to tooth loss, it can come with some pretty unpleasant side effects, such as chronic bad breath and gum recession.

However, gum disease is easily preventable. And even if that ship has sailed for you, it’s not too late to save your smile from any damage that gum disease has caused.

At Alabama Family Dental, we offer gentle, non-surgical treatments that are tough on the bacteria that cause gum disease. Dr. Whatley is committed to providing high-quality dental care and patient education, and he’s built up a team of compassionate individuals who are attuned and responsive to patient needs!

Call us at (251) 241-0890 to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, read on to learn about three things you should know about gum disease.


1. Gum Disease Is Caused By The Same Thing As Tooth Decay: Plaque.


Almost everyone takes great care to avoid cavities, but not everyone takes the same measures to avoid gum disease — even though both conditions are caused by bacterial buildup in the mouth. When leftover food gets stuck in your teeth or along the gumline (and isn’t removed with proper flossing), it breaks down into sugars that are extremely appealing to bacteria.

This harmful bacteria accumulates along your gums, and your body responds by increasing blood flow to the area to see if white blood cells — which protect your body from infection — can take care of it. As a result, your gums become swollen, red, and tender. They might even bleed when you floss! These are all classic symptoms of gingivitis, an early form of gum disease marked by inflammation.

Now, we know what you might be thinking: Inflammation isn’t a huge deal. But with gum disease, the infection rarely goes away on its own. In fact, if gingivitis is left untreated, it’s likely to progress into an aggressive form of gum disease called periodontitis.

So, what can you do about plaque? Preventing gum disease is often as easy as flossing once a day and seeing your dentist once every six months for a routine checkup and cleaning. These regular visits help ensure that the early signs of gum disease don’t go unnoticed. Hygienists will also remove harmful bacterial buildup from your teeth during these appointments, which helps further prevent infection.


2. Certain Groups Are More Susceptible To Gum Disease Than Others.


Although everyone is susceptible to gum disease, there are certain groups that are more likely to get it. Those include:

  • Women undergoing hormonal changes. This includes those that occur during menstruation, puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. It’s thought that increased levels of progesterone make it easier for bacteria to thrive.
  • Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes. Diabetes can negatively affect your immune system, which makes you more vulnerable to infections in general.
  • Those who use tobacco. Smoking and other similar habits can make it difficult for your gums to heal from infection and other damage.
  • Those who don’t regularly brush or floss. Proper oral hygiene practices help get rid of food particles that might otherwise attract bacteria.
  • Those with a family history of gum disease. Unfortunately, genetics do play a role in the health of your gums.


3. A Deep Cleaning Can Be All That’s Needed To Get Rid Of Gum Disease.


If you’ve developed gingivitis — or even periodontitis — it’s still possible to restore a healthy set of gums. Sometimes, a deep cleaning treatment that’s more thorough than you’d get during a routine dental appointment is all that’s needed to eradicate infection.

A procedure called scaling and root planing is sort of the next line of defense after a regular cleaning hasn’t gotten rid of the infection. This treatment involves removing plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from below your gumline.

Then, we carefully smooth the roots of your teeth to discourage future bacterial buildup. If it sounds intimidating, don’t worry. We thoroughly numb the area before the procedure begins to ensure your comfort.


Healthy Gums, Healthy Smile


If you’re wanting to make a positive difference in your dental health, start with your gums! Aside from regularly flossing, consider partnering with the caring team at Alabama Family Dental.

Call us at (251) 241-0890 to schedule an appointment, or use our convenient online form.