You May Have Gum Disease and Not Even Know It

How to clean teeth

It’s estimated that over three quarters of all Americans suffer from gum disease in some form, but are unaware of it. Different stages of different diseases present differently in the gums, and you may not know you have a problem until the damage reaches the surface — or worse, destroys the root of your tooth.

So you may be asking yourself, “How can I take care of my teeth if I can’t even tell there’s anything wrong?” The answer is simple: regular checkups. The insidious and often invisible nature of gum disease is perhaps the best argument for regular, scheduled dental exams every six months (or sooner, if you have questions or concerns in the meantime). Your family dentist knows the signs, and can often spot gum disease and dental concerns before they become full-blown problems.

Advances in general dentistry make the detection of gum disease part of a standard checkup for every patient. During your cleaning, your dentist is looking for tell-tale signs and symptoms — halitosis (chronic bad breath), sensitivity, red or swollen gums, or longer-looking teeth (a sign of a receding gumline). If your dentist suspects the problem may be more serious, they may take a series of x-rays to examine the problem further.

The next logical question is, “So how can I take care of my teeth at home so that I don’t get gum disease in the first place?” Knowing how to care for teeth and gums at home is essential for good oral health, but it goes beyond just brushing and flossing. While the American Dental Association recommends that everyone brush their teeth at least twice a day, if you consume a lot of sugary snacks and soda, you might want to consider brushing your teeth even more. Sugar can change the pH levels in your mouth just enough to allow certain bacteria to begin to produce acids that can eat away at your enamel. Brushing after each snack can remove all the sugar from your teeth and restore your mouth to the proper pH level more quickly.

But even with these oral care tips, you may be susceptible to gum disease for a variety of other reasons — lack of childhood fluoride treatments, genetic predisposition, or previous injury or illness. The only sure-fire way to catch gum disease before it causes irreparable damage is to see your dentist for regular checkups. Read more articles like this.

Tom Pultney

Tom Pultney

If you’re anything like the average person out there, the words “root canal” are enough to make you cringe, and just thinking about the sound of a dentist drill sends a shiver down your spine. Did you know that the best dental hygiene can keep the drill out of your mouth? I’m Tom Pultney, hygienist and president of the Dental Hygiene Association. Like anyone in the medical profession, I wish as much as anyone else we didn’t have to do what we do, and everyone’s teeth were perfect, straight and bright. But the reality is, that won’t happen without keeping up on your dental hygiene, and whether you need a dentist for your annual cleaning, or for some dental work, we’ve got info on the best dentists around the US.

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