When you come to Family Dental of Spokane Valley for a checkup, we do not just examine your teeth. We are also looking for inflammation and other early signs of periodontal disease. It’s vitally important to keep on top of gum health. Gum disease is associated with a number of serious systemic health problems, and it — not tooth decay — is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
Periodontal disease is also shockingly common. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of American adults over the age of 30 have mild, moderate, or severe gum disease. That percentage rises to a whopping 70 percent for people 65 or older.
You may have gum disease and not even realize it. Symptoms often don’t manifest until the condition progresses and worsens, at which point it will be more difficult to treat. So even if your mouth feels totally healthy, regular dental visits are important to keeping gum disease at bay.
If you live in or around Spokane Valley, WA, book your next checkup at Family Dental of Spokane Valley. Call our office at 509-850-3217.
Healthy Gums for a Healthy Body
We’ve discussed how gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. This is far from its most serious effects, however. The latest research affirms that gum disease is closely linked with diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing gum disease than the general population, likely because they are more susceptible to infection. And periodontal disease appears to make it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar. This puts them at a higher risk for diabetic complications.
While the reasons behind the link are not yet fully understood (though inflammation may be the key), research has shown that people with gum disease are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Plus, periodontal disease appears to make existing heart problems worse.
Gum disease may also make people more likely to develop osteoporosis and respiratory disease. Research has even found that men with periodontal disease are more likely to get certain cancers.
Gum Disease Risk Factors
While anyone can get gum disease, some people are at higher risk than others. Some of these factors are out of your control, but others are not. Regardless of your risk, it’s important to see us at Spokane Valley Family Dental for regular cleanings and exams.
- Age: the older you are, the more likely you are to have gum disease. The CDC says 70% of Americans 65 and older are afflicted.
- Genetics: does gum disease run in your family? Do you have gum problems despite meticulous oral hygiene? Then you may be genetically susceptible to periodontal disease.
- Smoking and tobacco use: as if you need another reason to quit, tobacco use is one of the biggest risk factors for developing gum disease.
- Teeth grinding and clenching: these behaviors put destructive excessive force not only on your teeth, but on your gums as well.
- Stress: stress makes it more difficult for your body to fight infection, plus people who are stressed are more likely to clench or grind their teeth.
- Medications: certain drugs increase your chances of developing gum disease.
- Hormonal changes: pregnancy and menopause bring about hormonal fluctuations that make women more susceptible to gum issues.
Gum Disease Symptoms
If you notice any of the following indicators of periodontal disease, it’s important to make an appointment with Family Dental of Spokane Valley right away.
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Gums that bleed when you brush
- Gums that appear to have pulled away from your teeth
- Lingering halitosis or a bad taste in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- A change in your bite, or how your teeth fit together
- A change in the fit of your dentures
- Sores or pus in your mouth
Of course, even if you don’t have symptoms, still visit us every six months for a checkup!
How We Treat Your Gum Disease
The earliest stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. At this point, the condition can generally be reversed by visiting us regularly for professional cleanings and practicing excellent oral hygiene at home.
If your gum disease is more severe, Dr. Ellsworth can perform a special deep-cleaning procedure called scaling and root planing. This treatment, which is done under local anesthesia, involves removing the plaque and tartar underneath the gumline and smoothing your tooth roots. We may also use an antibiotic called Arestin® to inhibit bacterial growth.