Why Gum Health Is So Important

Gums can seem like a secondary area of care, second to your teeth. While the health of your teeth is important, of course, your gum health is just as necessary. Without proper brushing and flossing, your gums will get infected which will cause them to bleed. Bleeding gums can be one of the first signs of gum disease. A mild form of gum disease is called gingivitis, which exclusively infects your gums, but if left untreated, the infection can travel down to your bone. Once it has traveled past your gum line, then it becomes a more serious gum infection, otherwise known as periodontitis, which has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and even an increase in the risk of developing cancer. To learn more about how to properly take care of your gums, or to schedule an appointment with the best dentists in Lawrence, contact Lawrence Dental Studio today. 

Symptoms of Unhealthy Gums

Chances are you’ve probably dealt with unhealthy gums at least once in your lifetime. If you’ve experienced sore and bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, or red and swollen gums, your gums have been the victim of an infection. In addition to these symptoms, keep an eye out for the following:

  • Loose teeth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Receding gums or longer appearing teeth

You may be able to diagnose your gum disease yourself, but during a dental visit, a dental hygienist will examine your gums and take note of any inflammation. They will also check the pockets around your teeth, which should be between 1 and 3 millimeters in a healthy mouth. The dentist may also examine any bone loss by taking an x-ray. If you’re unsure about your gums and would like a professional opinion, then schedule an appointment with Lawrence Dental Studio today! Our dentists are experts in the field and are great resources for your dental needs. 

Gingivitis

Gum disease initially starts when bacteria, mucus, and food particles invade the small space between your gums and teeth. If left untreated, your gums and teeth are put at great risk of becoming infected, which can lead to an increasingly difficult, painful, and expensive treatment. As discussed above, gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease, and it causes the gums to become red,swollen, and bleed easily. Because the infection is not yet too intense, the pain and discomfort is little to none. Further, with professional treatment and good oral care, the symptoms of gingivitis can be reversible. Some factors that contribute to gingivitis include:

  • Smoking
  • Aging
  • Stress
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • HIV infection

Having gingivitis is a great opportunity to improve your oral health and getting control of the infection before it becomes a bigger issue. Treatments for controlling the infection can vary, depending on the extent of the gum disease. They can range from changing certain behaviors, like quitting smoking, to practicing healthier oral habits, like brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing regularly to remove plaque from between teeth. One of the most important factors in catching your gum disease early, however, is scheduling regular dentist appointments. Routine check-ups with our professional dentists at Lawrence Dental Studio will prevent gingivitis from getting worse and will also ensure healthy gums and a beaming smile! Call us now to schedule an appointment with the best dentists in Lawrence, Kansas. 

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is the aggravated form of gingivitis left untreated. Over time, plaque will begin to grow, spreading below the gum line, producing toxins and further irritating the gums. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response, in which the body begins to attack itself, and the tissue and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. During this time, the gums separate from the teeth and form spaces between the teeth that become increasingly infected. The pockets continue to deepen, further destroying the gum tissue. Eventually, the teeth will have to be removed. There a few forms of periodontitis, which include:

  • Aggressive Periodontitis – This form can be explained by rapid attachment loss and bone destruction. 
  • Chronic Periodontitis – Characteristics include pocket formation, inflammation within the supporting tissue of the teeth, and progressive detachment and bone loss. It can occur at any age.  
  • Periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic diseases – Beginning at a young age, periodontitis will occur as a result of conditions like heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes.
  • Necrotizing periodontal disease – This infection is characterized by cell death in the gingival tissue, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone. Lesions associated with this form are commonly observed in individuals with systemic conditions like HIV infection, malnutrition, and immunosuppression. 

Health Risks of Gum Disease

The state of your teeth affects your overall health and well-being. Several studies have shown that periodontal disease is associated with heart disease. While there is no cause-and-effect relationship that has been proven and established, it has been researched to show that periodontal disease increases the risk of heart disease. Periodontal disease can further exacerbate existing heart conditions and has even been linked to stokes.

In addition to compromising the health of the heart, gum disease has also been linked to osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw. Osteoporosis may lead to tooth loss because the density of the bone that supports the teeth may be decreased, which means that teeth no longer have a solid foundation. In addition to contributing to the decrease in jaw bone density, gum disease can cause respiratory diseases like pneumonia. This is from the bacteria in the oral cavity that is then aspirated into the lungs. Lastly, research has indicated that men who have gum disease are 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, are 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and are 30% more likely to develop blood cancer. 

More alarmingly, there is research to show that periodontal disease is linked to an increased buildup of beta-amyloid in the brain, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s. A type of bacteria that is commonly found in cases of periodontitis, Porphyromonas gingivalis, can be found in the brain of individuals with Alzheimer’s. 

How to Treat Gum Disease

Depending on what stage your gum disease is at, the level of treatment will vary. But the goal of any treatment is to prevent further damage and control the infection. Some methods of treatment include scaling and root planning, medications, and surgery. 

  • Scaling and root planning – This treatment is for less severe cases of periodontitis. Our dentists will remove the infection-causing plaque by a method called scaling and root planning. It is essentially a deep clean that removes bacteria from around the gum line and on the tooth root.
  • Medications – Medications are used to reduce the size of the gum pockets and come in forms including mouth rinses, gel, pills, or small particles that the dentist will place directly in the pockets. 
  • Surgery – Surgery is the last option for a method of treatment if the deep cleaning and the medications don’t work. Types of surgery, include flap surgery, which lifts away gum tissue so the dentist can clean underneath it before the tissue is sutured back in place, and gum or bone graft surgery, which grafts tissue or bone from another part of your mouth onto the damaged part of your gum or jaw. 

While these treatments are all effective, the best treatment is the maintenance and prevention of gum disease in the first place. Caring for your gums can involve brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, and regularly seeing the best dentists in Lawrence by scheduling an appointment with Lawrence Dental Studio. 
Without regular checkups and extremely close examination of your gums, you may not be aware that you have gum disease. The failure to recognize and treat gum disease can have serious effects on your overall health. Regular dental checkups are the best way to identify these symptoms, so schedule an appointment with Lawrence Dental Studio today! We are experts in periodontal disease and how it can affect your body. We have designed treatments that are specific to each of our clients to ensure that they reach the healthiest outcome possible for their situation. For more information about our gum disease treatments, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.

Tooth-Friendly Halloween Treats

If you’re like a large majority of the population, then you jump at the first sight of bags of candy lining the aisles of grocery stores as everyone begins preparing for Halloween. As the holiday gets closer and closer, the overconsumption of sweet treats is normalized and even encouraged. While these bite-sized desserts are delicious, of course, they do more damage than good; not only compromising your health but the state of your oral hygiene and dental integrity. All of the treats can be a real trick on the health of you and your child, as the bacteria in your mouth will convert leftover sugars and starches into acid, leaving your teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay and enamel damage. Avoid the caramel, bubble gum, and gummy candy — they drive your dentist batty! Instead, reference this list of things that are great for celebrating Halloween while also celebrating your dental hygiene! And of course, don’t forget to schedule your regular cleaning with Lawrence Dental Studio. Contact us today. 

Chocolate

For all chocolate lovers out there, this is your time to rejoice! Chocolate tends to rinse off your teeth quicker than sticky and gummy candies, making them a smaller threat to the health of your teeth — just try to avoid the chocolate that has caramel inside. You can even opt for dark chocolate, which has less sugar than milk chocolate or white chocolate and usually has antioxidants and fiber. This would be a great treat to replace the others in your child’s candy bag, and something that they will even like! 

Alternative Snacks

Little bags of pretzels, crackers, and pureed fruit pouches can be a great alternative treat to all the cavity-inducing treats that everyone else hands out. These are great for snacking and are still enjoyable. You will enjoy them without really even thinking about it. These unsweetened additions to your bag of candy will be a more healthy alternative in your diet and will give you some relief from the overload of sugar.  

Halloween Trinkets and DIY Decorations

Another suggestion is to raid your local dollar store and stock up on trinkets that are Halloween themed so you can enjoy the spirit of the day. Although you won’t be able to eat these treats, you can still be creative and have fun while keeping the sugar at bay. These “treats” can include glow sticks, temporary tattoos, vampire teeth, spider rings, coloring books, pencils, erasers, Play-Doh, and other modeling clay. You can even go to hobby stores and create your own Halloween decorations to get in the spirit. 

Sugar-Free Gum

Sugary gum can be one of the worst kinds of things for your teeth because it helps increase the accumulation of plaque on your teeth and causes tooth decay over time. Instead, opt for a sugar-free gum that has been approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). Sugar-free gum helps stimulate saliva production, which helps prevent cavities when combined with great dental hygiene practices. 

Water

While this “treat” doesn’t really seem like a treat at all, water is a great way to wash away any sugar that might remain in their mouths after snacking on other candy. They are also a great way to help keep you hydrated as you continue on your Halloween adventure, trick-or-treating around your neighborhood. 

Substituting Sweets for Healthy Snacks

There’s no need to punish yourself if you have a craving for chocolate or another sugary treat. Should you ever have one, then reach for a healthy snack that will satisfy your cravings. This can be anything from vegetables and hummus to cheese and crackers to peanut butter and a banana. You don’t have to get crazy with the snacks, but giving yourself something healthier to munch on is better than diving into a family-sized bag of chocolate when you get the urge. But, if you need your chocolate fix, then opt for some sugar-free sweets. No, they’re not the same as those other Halloween treats, but that is something your teeth will thank you for! 

While it may take a while for you to adjust to the change in diet, it is easier than you think and contributes to their overall health. Every effort you make to change Halloween habits will lead to long-lasting change, and soon you will have no problem kicking your love for sugar to the curb! Don’t beat yourself up, however, if you do choose to indulge in some sweet treats, just drink some water afterward and brush your teeth before bed. And of course, don’t forget to schedule your regular dental hygiene appointments with Lawrence Dental Studio, the best cosmetic dentist in Lawrence, Kansas! We specialize in sleep disorders, TMJ disorders, dental implants, teeth whitening, and more. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment.