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Gum Disease

If you have been told you have periodontal (gum) disease, you’re not alone. In fact, at least 3 out of 4 Americans suffer from some form of periodontal gum disease, which is the leading cause of tooth loss for people over the age of 35. Periodontal diseases range from the swelling of the gums to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that supports the teeth. In some severe cases, teeth are lost. Whether your gum disease is stopped, slowed, or gets worse directly depends on you. The best way to make sure you get rid of the bacteria in your mouth is by practicing good oral hygiene.

Our mouths are filled of bacteria. This bacteria, which is colorless, forms a sticky plaque on your teeth, and brushing and flossing can get rid of this plaque. However, if not brushed or taken care of, the plaque that is not removed can harden and form “tartar” that brushing cannot get rid of. Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove this tartar buildup.

The longer tartar is on your teeth, the more harmful it becomes for your mouth. The bacteria can cause inflammation of the gums that is called “gingivitis.” In Gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can easily bleed. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be treated with daily brushing and flossing, and a regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place.

However, if Gingivits is not taken care of, it advances to periodontitis, which means “inflammation around the tooth”. In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces called “pockets” that become infected. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed, and your teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.

If you are worried about having gum disease, there are many signs and symptoms to be aware of:

  • Bad breath that won’t go away

  • Red or swollen gums

  • Tender or bleeding gums

  • Painful chewing

  • Loose teeth

  • Sensitive teeth

  • Receding gums or longer appearing teeth

There are also many risk factors associated with gum disease such as smoking, hormonal changes, and even your genes. If you have gum disease, or suspect that you might, the main goal of your gum disease treatment is to control the infection. The treatments will vary depending on the extent of the gum disease, and no matter the type of treatment, nothing will get better without good daily care at home.

The best way to prevent gum disease is to take good care of your mouth. Here are some tips to make sure your mouth stays healthy:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day

  • Floss regularly to remove plaque from between teeth.

  • Visit the dentist routinely for a check-up and professional cleaning.

  • Don’t smoke

The office of Dr. Shane McDowell has established an excellent periodontal program that has helped many patients avoid tooth loss and maintain healthier bone levels. The office of Dr. Shane McDowell offers a gentle, comprehensive nonsurgical gum care and a soft-tissue program that has helped restore many smiles over the years. For more information on Dr. McDowell’s periodontal program, along with dental cleanings, please visit our website at and schedule an appointment with me and my staff.

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