Think about your ideal smile. It probably includes straight, white teeth. But what about the gums? Your gums are the foundation of your smile, and if they’re not healthy, your smile will be worse off for it.
February is Gum Disease Awareness Month, so the team at A Perfect Smile wanted to take a minute and share some information about gum disease. This infection of the tissue surrounding your teeth affects nearly half of all American adults — many of whom don’t realize they have gum disease until it has badly damaged their gums.
But with routine dental checkups and cleanings, it becomes more likely that you’ll catch the early signs of gum disease and can do something about it before considerable damage has taken place. Our Falmouth, ME office also offers deep cleaning treatments that are aggressive toward infection-causing bacteria but comfortable for our patients.
Read on for some of the ways we can work together to improve the health of your gums. Then, give us a call! At A Perfect Smile, we offer high-quality dental care in a spa-like setting, so you can relax and recharge while you do something good for your oral health. Call us at (207) 536-3508 to schedule an appointment.
Gum Disease 101
Plaque is your smile’s worst enemy. It’s a major contributor to tooth decay, but it’s also the most common cause of gum disease.
There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is an early and mild form of gum disease that occurs when plaque-causing bacteria irritate the gingiva, or gum tissue. This causes the gums to become inflamed, often taking on a swollen or red appearance. At this stage, your gums may also bleed when you brush or floss.
Gingivitis is generally easy to cure with a deep cleaning procedure, but unfortunately, many people don’t realize that their bleeding or tender gums are a sign that something’s wrong. When gingivitis isn’t addressed, it can worsen into periodontitis, a more advanced and aggressive form of gum disease.
Symptoms of periodontitis include:
- Gums that easily bleed
- Gumline recession, where the gingiva pulls away from your teeth
- Pockets or gaps that form between your teeth and gumline
- Bad breath
- Gums that are red or purple in color
- A change in the positioning or alignment of your teeth
- Painful chewing
- Gum tenderness
While periodontitis is preventable, it’s difficult to eradicate the infection and repair the damage. In fact, some dentists say that once you develop periodontitis, gum disease can’t be cured; it can only be managed.
Prevention Is Key
Of course, it’s easier to prevent gum disease than deal with the fallout later on. That’s why at A Perfect Smile, we emphasize the importance of preventative dentistry, patient education, and good oral hygiene habits.
One of the best things you can do for your gums is commit to routine checkups and cleanings. Our talented hygienists have been trained to spot the earliest signs of gum disease so that we can address the problem before it worsens. These appointments also give us the opportunity to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) that has accumulated along your gumline since your last visit.
There’s also something you can do at home to decrease your risk of gum disease: Floss once a day. Proper flossing not only removes food particles that get stuck between your teeth (like pesky popcorn kernels), but it also removes plaque that would otherwise linger along the gumline. Just remember: If you’re flossing correctly, it shouldn’t make your gums bleed. If your gums bleed every time you floss, either you’re doing it a little too aggressively, or it’s time to see the dentist for gum disease treatment.
Repairing The Damage
If your gums should become infected, don’t worry. Not all is lost. It’s just time to eradicate infection with a deep cleaning treatment.
At A Perfect Smile, we perform a procedure called scaling and root planing that involves a thorough cleaning of the gumline, paired with an antibiotic called Arestin®. During our deep cleaning procedures, we prefer to use gentle ultrasonic devices instead of traditional hand tools because they provide a quieter, more comfortable experience for our patients.
This intensive periodontal therapy will promote healing of the gum tissue, but if you’ve experienced severe gumline recession, we might recommend a procedure like gum grafting to restore a healthy gumline.
Healthy Gums, Healthy Smile
At A Perfect Smile, we take a holistic approach to gum disease and dental care. We believe that your oral health is tied to much of your overall wellbeing, and we want to see our patients thrive in every possible way.