The Facts of Gum Disease

The Facts of Gum Disease

Discussion of facts of gum diseaseEveryone knows about cavities & how they affect your teeth and your oral health, but you never hear very much about gum disease. What is gum disease? How can you protect your gums and teeth from gum disease? And what causes it anyway?

The Facts of Gum Disease

Gum disease (officially called periodontal disease) is the infection of the gums. It is caused by bacteria getting under your gum tissue & eroding your gums & teeth. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to many health issues, including tooth loss, heart disease, stroke & diabetes.

Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease that manifests as inflammation. Your gums might be swollen & red, & they might bleed when you brush your teeth or floss. Gingivitis can be treated by maintaining your oral health with regular brushing, flossing & visits to your dentist.

Periodontitis is a more serious form of gum disease that erodes the bone & tissues surrounding your teeth. If left untreated, periodontitis can cause you to lose your teeth!

Causes of Gum Disease

Gum disease occurs when plaque builds up on your teeth, so the best thing you can do to combat it is to clean your teeth regularly!

Gum disease is caused by a variety of factors & has been linked to illnesses that affect your immune system. You are at a higher risk for gum disease if you have cancer, diabetes & HIV, because your immune system can’t fight the bacterial infections that might lead to periodontal disease as well.

Smokers, pregnant women & people with high stress levels are also at risk, & some medications that cause dry mouth can put you at risk as well.

How to Treat Gum Disease

In its early stages, gum disease can be managed & prevented by regular brushing & flossing. Visiting your dentist for a professional cleaning goes a long way toward keeping your gums & teeth healthy as well! If your dentist sees signs of gum disease during your dental exam, they can do deep cleanings called scaling & root planing to remove plaque & tartar from your teeth & keep your gums healthy. If your gum disease is more serious, it might require surgeries, such as gum tissue or bone grafts.

How Do I Know If I Have Gum Disease?

If your gums bleed when your brush or floss, or if you notice your gums are red, swollen or painful, please tell us right away at your next appointment. But keep in mind that many people who have the early stages of gum disease experience no obvious symptoms or pain.

Please note that there is no cure for gum disease. Once you have gum disease it can be treated & managed, but not cured. This makes prevention & early detection of the disease vital to keeping your mouth as healthy as possible.

Dentists & hygienists are trained to detect the signs of gum disease. That’s why controlling gum disease through regular cleanings is such a good way to take care of your teeth—& your overall health!

Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Care

Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Care

FAQ about dentistry dental careOur team has been caring for our community for a while now & we’ve noticed many patients come to us with the same questions over & over again. Always feel free to ask us questions when you have them! In the meantime, check out the FAQ & answers below to learn more about your oral health.

    1. What causes tooth sensitivity & should I be worried about it?

      Patients often notice tooth sensitivity as pain when eating hot or cold foods or beverages. Tooth sensitivity is caused when the tooth’s surface has been worn away (leaving underlying dentin layer bare) or when gums have receded, exposing the sensitive root of the tooth. This exposed dentin allows heat, cold or pressure to reach your tooth’s nerve directly, resulting in pain. Tooth sensitivity can be a precursor to other dental problems, because exposed dentin is more vulnerable to decay & receding gums is a sign of possible gum disease. If you have sensitive teeth, please tell us right away so we can make recommendations on how to deal with it.


    1. How often do I need to visit the dentist?

      You should visit us every six months for a teeth cleaning. Your regular teeth cleaning appointments are not just an opportunity to get your teeth much cleaner than you can just by brushing & flossing at home, they’re also an opportunity for us to examine your mouth for potential problems. We generally take x-rays of your mouth at least once a year at your cleaning appointment, if not more often, so we can detect hard-to-see cavities & other issues. However, we should note that if we have diagnosed you with gum disease (periodontitis) or the beginnings of it (gingivitis), the doctor may ask that you come in more frequently so we can treat your condition & keep it from getting worse.


    1. What is better, a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush?

      With the proper technique, both manual & electric toothbrushes perform about the same. However, if your manual brushing techniques are less than optimal, an electric toothbrush may help you be a bit more thorough. Many electric toothbrushes have a built in timer that can help you make sure you brush for the recommended two minutes. If you are interested in an electric toothbrush, we’d be happy to talk with you about the options that would be best for you.


    1. What is gum disease?

      Gum disease, known clinically as periodontal disease or periodontitis, is when bacteria surrounds your teeth & invades your gums. The disease generally starts with little or no symptoms, so unless you visit the dentist regularly you may not even know you have it. Early stages of gum disease, often called gingivitis, can start with red, swollen gums that bleed easily & have started to recede from the teeth (your teeth might start to look longer than they used to), persistent bad breath, & gum sensitivity to acidic foods. Later stages of gum disease include abscesses, tooth pain, bone loss in the jaw & tooth loss. Gingivitis is treatable in it’s early stages, but if it becomes gum disease, it cannot be cured, only managed. Your best option is to prevent gum disease by practicing good oral hygiene habits, visiting us frequently for professional cleanings & checkups, & telling us right away if you have any of the symptoms listed above.


  1. My teeth don’t hurt & they look just fine. Why do I need to see the dentist?

    There are many dental problems that have no detectable symptoms, at least not at first. It’s possible to have cavities & tooth decay, gingivitis, gum disease, tooth grinding, an infected tooth or oral cancer & not have any obvious symptoms. Even if you aren’t experiencing pain, sensitivity, swelling or bleeding & can’t see anything wrong with your teeth in the mirror, there may still be a problem. That’s why we use all the latest technologies & techniques at our office, so we can detect potential problems even when you haven’t told us that something is bothering you. Visiting us every six months for a teeth cleaning & a brief dental exam is important to detecting potential problems before they become both costly & painful! We’re not trying to scare you or shake you down, we just want to keep you smiling!

A Step-by-Step Guide to Teaching Good Brushing Habits to Your Kids

A Step-by-Step Guide to Teaching Good Brushing Habits to Your Kids

teaching kids about good dental care habits

Brushing your teeth is very important for your oral & overall health, but to kids, it’s just a chore. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are some tips for teaching your kids how to brush their teeth effectively & solidify good dental care habits for a lifetime of healthy teeth.

Step 1. Demonstrate.

To encourage your kids to brush their teeth properly, model good behavior! Brush your teeth at the same time as your child & let them watch you so they can see how it should be done. Explain what you’re doing as you’re doing it & brush in small circles on all surfaces of every tooth. Make sure you show how to angle the toothbrush at 45 degrees to brush the gum line effectively.

Step 2. Guide.

Kids usually don’t have good enough motor control to brush their own teeth well until they are 6 or 7, so until then, you can brush their teeth for them.

Show them how to squeeze a pea-sized amount of toothpaste onto the toothbrush (the ADA recommends using a rice grain-sized amount until your child is three years old) & have your child face the mirror so they can see & you can explain what you are doing. Go slow & show them proper brushing technique.

Once they are old enough to brush their teeth on their own, continue to brush your teeth at the same time as your child to encourage good dental care. If you’re nervous that they aren’t being thorough, trade off for a while. Your child can brush their own teeth in the morning, & then in the evening you can reinforce proper brushing technique by doing it for them.

Step 3. Encourage Them to Be Thorough.

Make sure your child is thorough & continues to brush for the entire two minutes. You can use songs or a timer to countdown, & tell them to make lots of bubbles with the toothpaste.

When the two minutes is up, instruct them to spit the toothpaste into the sink & never swallow it. Then, they should rinse their mouth & the toothbrush. To show them how thorough they need to be, you can use plaque dye tablets after brushing to show them the spots they missed.

Step 4. Floss!

Flossing is a very important part of the dental care routine that you should encourage your child to follow from an early age. To make it more fun & easy, you can use floss picks, because they often come in styles with characters.

As with brushing their teeth, teach your child the proper flossing technique. Wind 18 inches of floss around your middle fingers & pinch the floss between your thumb & index fingers. Gently insert the floss between two teeth using a back & forth motion. Curve the floss around each tooth in a C shape & move it up & down each tooth. You can demonstrate it, guide your child, & eventually let them try it themselves.

Tips & Tricks

40% of kids have cavities by the time they enter kindergarten, so it’s important to encourage good brushing habits early. Even though baby teeth will fall out eventually, it’s important to keep them clean & healthy anyway because they are guides & space holders for permanent teeth.

Here are some tips & tricks for making brushing fun!

  • Practice on a model. You can use dolls, an upside-down egg carton, or an old toothbrush & paint & paper.
  • Let your child choose their toothbrush & toothpaste! Get them involved in their health. You can also try an electric toothbrush, because those are fun for kids.
  • Tell them a story about the sugar bugs that make holes in our teeth if we don’t brush them away.
  • The circular movement of the toothbrush is kind of like the wheels on a train! Encourage them to move the train across their teeth.
  • Tell them to pretend the brush is a superhero who is rescuing each tooth from plaque monsters.