Gum disease in Ephrata is by far the most common cause of tooth loss in our area. But you can tilt the odds in your favor by brushing and flossing daily, eating a sensible diet and seeing your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups.
How Gum Disease Get Started
Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is a progressive illness that grows worse when left untreated. It does its despicable work in four steps:
- Plaque deposits form on the teeth due to sugars and starches in the foods we eat, interacting with harmful bacteria in our mouth. This is why dentists recommend limiting consumption of snacks and sugary treats. Both provide the raw fuel that germs need to get a foothold in our gums.
- Plaque spreads up the tooth and under the gum line, where it becomes tartar (also known as calculus). Tartar is much harder to remove than plaque, which is why regular dental cleanings are so important.
- Infection spreads from tartar into the gums themselves, irritating and inflaming them. This creates a vicious cycle in which pockets of infection form in your soft tissues, giving the bacteria an even stronger foothold.
- Germs spread from your gums into your teeth and bones, eating away at them like acid. In some cases this can trigger chronic inflammation throughout the body, harming your immune system and enabling the infection to spread beyond your mouth.
Let’s review some of the risk factors for gum disease:
- Some people inherit a greater likelihood of tooth loss and gum disease.
- Hormonal changes caused by menopause, pregnancy or simple aging.
- Side effects of medications that cause dry mouth or promote the growth of oral bacteria.
- Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s and cancer.
- Poor nutrition. This is especially the case with people who fail to get adequate amounts of vitamin C.
- Tobacco, alcohol or illicit drug use. In large quantities, alcohol can damage the enamel that protects your teeth from infection. Tobacco products and illicit drugs are never okay. Each can cause serious health issues throughout your body.
- Lack of regular hygiene. This is by far the most common risk factor for gum disease. Brushing and flossing remove the plaque that starts the tooth loss process. This is why practicing good daily self-care is so important.
Treatment Options for Gum Disease
The good news is that modern dentistry has a number of effective ways to treat gum disease and tooth loss. Here are some examples:
- Professional cleanings remove the plaque and tartar that play such an important role in the gum disease process.
- Fillings, crowns, bridges and dental implants in Ephrata can repair the physical damage to your teeth. Implants can also prevent the loss of facial bone so common with untreated tooth loss.
- Following advice from your dentist in Ephrata helps to ensure that your teeth and gums stay healthy going forward.
Gum disease is a common and very serious problem. But following the steps in this post can keep your teeth in good health and give you plenty of reason to smile.
About the Author
Dr. Sean Moriarty earned his DDS degree from Temple University. He’s a highly skilled dentist and the owner of Ephrata Family Dentistry. You can reach his office online or by calling (717) 733-1088.