gum disease

Oral hygiene is important- and not just for your smile!!

Dental cavities and tooth decay is one of the most common medical conditions experienced by Americans and the single most common disease of childhood.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 19 percent of children have untreated cavities and approximately 41 percent of children have decay in their “baby teeth.”

Cavities are the result of gradual tooth decay caused by the build-up of plaque and breakdown of protective enamel. Initially cavities are painless, but they open the tooth up to infections, eventually exposure the nerve resulting in pain. The internal structures of the tooth can also be destroyed, ultimately causing the loss of the tooth. While this might not seem important in “baby teeth” as they are going to be lost anyway, infection can cause damage to the growing teeth and subsequent treatments can be painful and expensive.

Overall, oral hygiene is an essential component of one’s health. Researchers from the American Heart Association recently shared findings that professional dental care can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Experts tracked 100,000 people for an average of 7 years in Taiwan. They found that those who had their teeth professionally cleaned at least once every two years were 24 percent less likely to have a heart attack and 13 percent less likely to have a stroke.

Regular dentist visits and oral hygiene reduces the growth of inflammation-causing bacteria that causes periodontal disease. However, these bacteria can also cause inflammation of the vessels, with studies showing that these bacteria are associated with elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for blood vessel inflammation.

Dental health should begin in childhood as even babies are susceptible to cavities. Most children get their first tooth around 6 or 7 months of age and dental care should begin promptly thereafter with a visit to the dentist, as well as, regular tooth brushing. One major risk for early childhood cavities is consumption of sugary liquids, particularly allowing your child to fall asleep with a bottle of juice or milk.

The extended contact with sugar increases the rate of tooth decay. Avoiding sticky foods and frequent snacks are other strategies to ward off cavities. Instilling these routines in childhood promotes their continuation into adult life and with more studies showing broad health benefits from dental hygiene it is essential.

So don’t forget to schedule your six month check up and cleaning!
Call our office today for an appointment.

What is periodontal disease?

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not be aware that you have it, but if left untreated it can gradually become a worsening condition that deteriorates the tissue and bone that support teeth, eventually leading to tooth loss.

However, tooth loss is not the only possible problem posed by periodontal disease. Research has shown that there is a link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease. (Heart disease and stroke). High stress may also be linked to periodontal disease. Not to mention increased sensitivity and unsightly tartar around inflamed, puffy gums.


What causes periodontal disease?

Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on teeth. Plaque contains bacteria that irritate and inflame the gums. Thorough and consistent oral hygiene removes plaque that accumulates around the teeth and gums, However, if plaque says on teeth it can harden and build up in and around the gums. Once plaque hardens, only a dental professional can remove the tartar that accumulates in the gums.

Inflamed gums can pull away from the teeth forming spaces called pockets. Once the gum recedes, the tooth’s roots may become exposed leaving the patient with increased sensitivity to temperature changes and touch. Bacteria can accumulate in these pockets and worsen the condition. When inflammation or infection of the gums is allowed to progress without treatment, the infection can spread from the gums to the ligaments and bone that support the teeth eventually leading to tooth loss.


You can have periodontal disease without any clear symptoms, that’s why regular dental check ups are important. Some symptoms include:

-bad breath

-gums that appear red or shiny

-gum bleeding when brushing

-gums that are tender

-loose teeth

-swollen gums


Treatment depends on the type and severity of the disease. If caught early, and no damage has been done to the bone or supporting structures under the teeth, your dentist may do a simple cleaning. With a more severe periodontal disease a deep cleaning or scaling and root planing may be needed. In this treatment, the dentist will remove all tartar accumulated under the gums and smooth the tooth’s root surfaces so that the surrounding gum tissue can regenerate around it.

Your dentist may also prescribe medicines to help control infections and pain. These medicines can be orally administered, in the form of pills, moth rinse or they can be directly applied to the affected area by a dentist. A referral to a periodontist, ( a gum specialist) may be given. In very severe cases of advanced periodontal disease, surgery may be an option.

Preventing gum disease

Regular dental check ups and good oral hygiene are key to maintain healthy gum and overall dental health. Smoking can exacerbate existing conditions or it may be the cause of gingivitis. You don’t have to loose teeth to periodontal disease. Brush, keep up with oral hygiene habits, eat a balanced diet and schedule regular dental visits for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

by: Paola H.