perio chart

Preventive oral hygiene includes regular checkups and cleanings to remove plaque and tartar that build up on teeth even with dedicated daily care.

Rotten teeth, tooth decay, and gum diseases like gingivitis or periodontitis are usually the result of poor oral care. These health conditions cost far more to repair than to prevent.

You may not be able to kill two birds with one stone, but when it comes to oral health there is one very simple and affordable thing you can do to avoid these serious – and potentially expensive – problems. That is: take preventive oral hygiene seriously.

Tooth decay and gum diseases get their start with a substance called plaque. Preventive oral hygiene includes daily efforts to eliminate plaque and prevent its build up. It also includes regular checkups and professional cleanings to remove plaque and tartar that can build up on teeth despite dedicated daily care.

What is plaque?

Plaque is the name for a sticky and translucent substance that is constantly being produced by our mouths. The bacteria in plaque consume sugars that are contained in various types of food. This creates acids that attack the surface of the teeth and toxins that may attack the bone beneath the gums.

The acids assault tooth enamel for 20 or more minutes after you have sugary food or beverages. Eventually, the acids may begin to destroy the enamel, which is how tooth decay gets a foothold, so to speak.

Plaque can also penetrate below the gum line, where the toxins can threaten the underlying bone.

Plaque can also penetrate below the gum line, where the toxins can threaten the underlying bone. The result is gingivitis or periodontitis. Obviously, neither situation – a rotten tooth or poor gum health – is high on anyone’s wish list.

Treatments and costs

Not least among the reasons for avoiding tooth decay or gum disease is the expense involved in treatment. In either case, treatment options depend on the severity of the problem, and as the severity mounts, so do the costs for professional care.

…as the severity mounts, so do the costs for professional care.

Milder cases of tooth decay may be treated by simply using a fluoride-based treatment. If cavities have developed, however, a filling will be required. More severe cases may require that a dentist fit the tooth with a crown, perform a root canal operation, or even pull the tooth altogether.

Gum disease is likewise increasingly more expensive to deal with the longer it is ignored or left undiagnosed and allowed to progress. If a milder case of gum disease is caught in time, patients may be able to simply brush and floss their way back to optimal health. More serious cases will require professional cleaning by a dental hygienist to get rid of built up plaque. A severe case of gum disease may require antibiotics or even surgery.

Preventing tooth decay and gum disease

Repair or prevent? Well, we think it’s a “no brainer” – but then, consider the source

If you really need any more convincing, try plugging the phrases “Oral Conditions and Diseases” or “Tooth Conditions and Disorders” into your browsers’ search bar and see what images come up. YUCKA!!!

But, if you’re already convinced about the power of prevention – and could use a brush up on oral care basics – check out this overview of basic dental care in our blog archives.

While you’re at it, why not call to schedule your next dental checkup?

Happy flossing!

Share a smile with us! Follow us on Twitterlike us on Facebook, or add us to Google+.

Early gum disease detection may help avoid more serious problems.

Detecting gum disease early is the best bet for avoiding more serious complications and dangers of gum disease down the road.

Gum disease can become a serious problem for one’s oral health. Bacterially-infected gums and soft tissues, if left untreated, can deteriorate to the point of tooth loss. But studies point to even larger dangers.

Let’s start with a definition. In its earliest, mildest form, gum disease is known as gingivitis – an inflammation of gum tissue caused by a buildup of plaque (the sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth after eating).

At this stage, gum disease is characterized by red, swollen gums that sometimes bleed. It’s generally reversible by daily flossing and brushing.

Gingivitis, however, can develop into a much more serious form of disease known as periodontitis. Periodontitis occurs when plaque turns into a harder substance at the gum line called calculus or tartar.

When tartar builds up in the v-shaped crevice between tooth and gums (the sulcus), periodontitis can develop and damage the supporting tissues of the tooth, resulting in possible extraction.

Gum disease: The mouth-body connection

Gum disease is inflammatory in nature. Research indicates that there is an association between gum disease and other inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory diseases. There is a mouth-body connection that many dentists and physicians watch closely for the overall improvement of their patient’s health.

Gum disease in those with high risk factors for other inflammatory conditions can likely exacerbate those conditions. For example, the oral bacteria that cause gum disease can be transmitted to heart tissue and lung tissue either through inhalation or through the blood stream. In the heart, this can increase arterial inflammation or attach to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries, leading to heart attack or stroke. People with chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) or pneumonia can see their conditions worsened by the inhalation of oral bacteria originating with gum disease.

…if you suspect gum disease, and you’re at risk for, or have any other type of inflammatory disease, make your condition known immediately.

Diabetics are more likely to have gum disease than non-diabetics due to their elevated risk of infection and compromised ability to recover. But they may also suffer diabetic complications from having gum disease. Severe gum disease can increase blood sugar, affecting already difficult blood glucose management issues in diabetics.

Share a smile with us! Follow us on Twitterlike us on Facebook, or add us to Google+.

Pregnant women are at risk of premature birth and low birth weight due to gum disease. Some studies have suggested that pregnant women with periodontal disease are more likely to deliver prematurely at a low birth weight. Women with osteoporosis may also suffer greater oral bone loss when gum disease is present.

Any serious condition should be brought to the attention of your dentist, but if you suspect gum disease, and you’re at risk for, or have any other type of inflammatory disease, make your condition known immediately. Detecting gum disease early is the best bet for avoiding more serious complications and dangers of gum disease down the road.

Have you recovered from gum disease through stepping up your oral health routine? Share a comment about your experience below!

Learn More

The Relationship between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease