Gum Disease: An American Epidemic
In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control released a startling statistic: 47.2% of American adults live with some form of gum disease, also known as periodontitis. Prior to the release of this information, professional estimates had ranged as low as 30% and as high 80% but the stark reality remains that nearly half the adult population in the U.S. has this potentially serious inflammatory illness.
A number of factors contribute to the development of gum disease, including controllable factors like oral hygiene habits, dietary sugar intake, and tobacco use, as well as other factors like genetic predisposition, ethnicity, hormone fluctuations, and age. Gum disease is the primary cause of adult tooth loss in the United States (followed closely by tooth decay and accidental injury) and has been linked to a number of serious systemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis.
Treating Gum Disease with Your Austin Dentist
Your Austin dentist believes in providing care that respects the mouth-body connection. By helping her patients enjoy improved oral health, she can also help them enjoy better overall health throughout the lifetime. During your routine checkup, if your Austin Dentist or a member of our hygiene staff identifies the symptoms of gum disease, we could recommend a range of treatment option. For instance, if you show signs of early gingivitis, the mildest stage of gum disease, she may simply recommend improving your at-home oral hygiene, reducing your dietary sugar and starch intake, and using antimicrobial mouth rinse. If signs of moderate to severe gum disease are located, the dentist may recommend one or more of the following therapies:
- Scaling and root planing. During this procedure, also known as a deep cleaning, plaque and bacteria are removed from below the gum line. In addition, the surfaces of the tooth’s roots are smoothed out, thus deterring the accumulation of further plaque. Often, a topical antibiotic rounds out a deep cleaning.
- Laser gum therapy. Using a very small laser, the dentist effectively removes the infected tissue located between the gums and the tooth’s surface. As opposed to traditional surgical methods, laser gum surgery causes little or no bleeding and swelling, does not require stitches, and dramatically speeds up patient recovery time.
- Gum grafting. In some cases where significant amounts of gum tissue have been removed due to extensive infection, the dentist may recommend grafting healthy gum tissue in its place. After this procedure, patients no longer have exposed roots due to gum recession. Instead, they enjoy a smile that feels healthy and looks healthy.
At-Home Tips for Maintaining Healthy Gums
Unfortunately, gum disease is not entirely preventable. Genetic factors can increase your chances of developing the disease (if your parents had chronic gingivitis, you are more likely to have it too). Even hormone shifts can make you more susceptible to gum disease. However, your best bets for controlling and even preventing gum disease are relatively simple:
- Maintain good at-home oral hygiene habits. Brush twice a day for two minutes. Floss every evening before bed. Use an antibacterial mouth wash.
- Minimize your intake of sugar and starches. The bacteria living in your mouth feed on particles of starch and sugar, turning it into an acidic by-product that eats away at tooth enamel and irritates the gums. If you do enjoy a sweet treat or drink, be sure to brush your teeth, chew a stick of sugarless gum, or rinse your mouth out afterward.
- Visit your Austin dentist for regular checkups. Your dentist can recognize the earliest signs of gum disease and recommend conservative treatments.
Austin Periodonal Disease Before and After Pictures
Schedule an Appointment with Your Austin Dentist
Our Austin dentistry team looks forward to helping you and your family enjoy happy, healthy smiles. To schedule an appointment, please contact us at (512) 549-4069. Our Austin dentist office proudly provides preventive, restorative, cosmetic, and laser dentistry to families in Austin, Round Rock, and surrounding communities.