Ask Dr. Brown About Gum Disease in Philadelphia
What can I do to avoid gum disease?
To keep your teeth for a lifetime, you must remove the plaque from your teeth and gums every day with proper brushing and flossing. Regular dental visits are also important. Daily cleaning will help keep calculus formation to a minimum, but it won’t completely prevent it. A professional cleaning at least twice a year is necessary to remove calculus from places your toothbrush and floss may have missed. To make an appointment with us for gum disease evaluation in the Philadelphia area, please call (215) 735-3660.
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Can I pass my periodontal disease to others?
Gum disease may be passed from parents to children and between couples, according to an article in the September 1997 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. Researchers suggest that bacteria causing periodontal disease are passed though saliva. This means that when a family or couple comes into contact with each other’s saliva, they’re at risk for contracting the gum disease of another family member. Based on this research, the American Academy of Periodontology recognizes that treatment of gum disease may involve entire families. If one family member has gum disease, the AAP recommends that all family members see a dental professional for a periodontal disease screening.
I’m over 55. Does this mean I’m more likely to get gum disease?
Your chances of developing gum disease increase considerably as you get older. More than half of people aged 55 and older have periodontitis. The good news is that research suggests that these higher rates may be related to risk factors other than age. So, periodontal disease is not an inevitable part of aging. Risk factors that may make older people more susceptible include general health status, diminished immune status, medications, depression, worsening memory, diminished salivary flow, functional impairments and change in financial status.
When should I see a periodontist?
If you value your oral as well as overall health, anytime is a good time to see a periodontist for a periodontal evaluation. Sometimes the only way to detect gum disease is through a periodontal evaluation. A periodontal evaluation may be especially important in the following situations:
- If you notice any symptoms of gum disease, including:
- gums that bleed easily, such as during brushing or flossing
- red, swollen or tender gums
- gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- persistent bad breath
- pus between the teeth and gums
- loose or separating teeth
- a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- If you are thinking of becoming pregnant. Pregnant women who have gum disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby born too early and too small. In addition, about half of women experience “pregnancy gingivitis.” However, women who have good oral hygiene and have no gingivitis before pregnancy are very unlikely to experience this condition.
- If you have a family member with periodontal disease. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can pass through saliva. This means the common contact of saliva in families puts children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member.
- If you have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease or osteoporosis. Ongoing research is showing that gum disease may be linked to these conditions. The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can travel into the blood stream and pose a threat to other parts of the body. Healthy gums may lead to a healthier body.
- If you feel that your teeth are too short or that your smile is too “gummy.” Or, if you are missing one or more of your teeth and are interested in a long-lasting replacement option.
- If you are not satisfied with your current tooth replacement option, such as a bridge or dentures, and may be interested in dental implants.
- If you have a sore or irritation in your mouth that does not get better within two weeks.
What can I expect the first time I visit a periodontist?
During your first visit, your periodontist will review your complete medical and dental history with you. It’s extremely important for your periodontist to know if you are taking any medications or being treated for any condition that can affect your periodontal care. You will be given a complete oral and periodontal exam. Your periodontist will examine your gums, check to see if there is any gum line recession, assess how your teeth fit together when you bite and check your teeth to see if any are loose. Your periodontist will also take a small measuring instrument and place it between your teeth and gums to determine the depth of those spaces, known as periodontal pockets. This helps your periodontist assess the health of your gums. Radiographs (x-rays) may be used to show the bone levels between your teeth to check for possible bone loss.
What kinds of oral care products should I use to prevent gum disease?
Here are some guidelines for choosing dental care products — what works for most patients most of the time. To find out what is best for your particular needs, talk to your periodontist.
- Begin with the right equipment — a soft bristled toothbrush that allows you to reach every surface of each tooth. If the bristles on your toothbrush are bent or frayed, buy a new one. A worn-out brush will not clean your teeth properly.
- In addition to manual toothbrushes, your choices include automatic toothbrushes and “high tech” electronic toothbrushes. These are safe and effective for the majority of patients.
- Oral irrigators (water spraying devices) will not remove plaque from your teeth unless used in conjunction with brushing and flossing.
- Another aid is the rubber tip, often found on the handle end of a toothbrush used to massage the gums after brushing and flossing.
Other options include interproximal toothbrushes (tiny brushes that clean plaque between teeth) and interdental cleaners (small sticks or picks that remove plaque between teeth). If used improperly, these dental aids can injure the gums, so it is important to discuss proper use with your periodontist.
How should I choose oral care products?
Choose products that carry the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance — an important symbol of a dental product’s safety and effectiveness. Please contact us if you have any other questions or would like to schedule an appointment!
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