Find out if you’re at risk for developing periodontitis.

The latest CDC report shows that 2.9% more U.S. adults visited their dentist in 2017 compared to 2010. Back in 2010, only 61.1% of adults aged 18 to 65 paid their oral healthcare provider a visit. Seven years later, this went up to an impressive 64%! We also have the Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) to thank for this good news. 84% of them, after all, say their teeth can affect their personal or professional life.

However, periodontitis, or gum disease, is still prevalent in these younger adults. This oral disease, although more common in older adults, still affects 47.2% of people 30 years and older. What’s more, it can be silent or painless, which means you can have it but not know it right away.

Fortunately, periodontal disease is highly preventable and treatable. Ready to learn all about this common oral health problem and what you can do to keep it at bay? Continue reading, as we’re here to tell you all about it!

What is periodontitis?

Also known as periodontal disease, periodontitis occurs when the gums get infected. The ongoing infection causes damage to these soft tissues. If left untreated, it can cause the gums to pull away or “recede” from the teeth.

Gum recession, in turn, causes the teeth to become unstable and loose. More bacteria can get into the deeper parts of the gum structure, all the way to the teeth-supporting bone. From here, the harmful microorganisms can destroy the bone too. Ultimately, this can make the affected teeth fall out on their own.

What causes periodontal disease?

In many cases, periodontitis, or gum disease, results from poor oral hygiene. The mouth, after all, is home to the body’s second-most diverse microbial community. It houses, at the very least, 700 different bacterial species. Many of these microorganisms, unfortunately, are the primary cause of plaque.

Plaque is the clear but sticky substance that constantly forms on teeth. The bacteria in the mouth are even more active in creating plaque after meals. That’s because they feed on the “leftovers,” as well as the sugars and starches of food.

All these highlight the importance of brushing and flossing after every meal. Still, some people are more prone to, or are at a higher risk of developing, periodontitis.

How big of a role does age play in periodontal disease?

It’s true; periodontitis is more common in older people, affecting 70% of adults aged 65 and above. It’s also because of this that toothlessness is more prevalent in seniors.

According to scientists, this may have to do with how the gums break down faster with age. Inflammation also appears to occur more quickly in aged gums. Moreover, the aging process seems to slow down the body’s ability to heal wounds, such as those in the gums.

Who usually gets periodontitis aside from older people?

Aside from poor oral hygiene, smoking tobacco also raises one’s risk for periodontitis. Research suggests that women between 20 and 39 years old who smoke have twice the risk. In the general population, 15.6% of smokers have gum disease, while only 4.9% of non-smokers do. All that makes smoking the leading modifiable risk factor for diseases of the gums.

Genes also appear to be a risk factor when it comes to periodontitis. Scientists found a link between dozens of genes and increased gum disease risk. Always feeling stressed and poor dietary choices can also raise periodontitis risks.

Is periodontal disease curable?

Yes, it is! However, early diagnosis and treatment are both of the utmost importance here. It’s the initial stages of periodontitis wherein the disease is most reversible. This applies to those who have gene-related risk factors. This is one of the reasons dentists want to know their patients’ medical and family history.

With this knowledge, dentists can actively monitor their at-risk patients. They can then carry out early intervention and preventive treatment.

How do dentists treat periodontitis?

The earlier periodontitis gets diagnosed, the higher the possibility of reversibility. If your dentist catches it early, you may not even have to undergo surgical treatment. In this case, your oral healthcare provider may only need to perform scaling and root planing.

Today’s ultrasonic scalers allow for a more thorough cleaning of the teeth and gums. This, in turn, removes a lot more plaque than regular brushing and flossing. With continued at-home oral hygiene, your gums can then recover and heal. Also, the cleaner your pearly whites can get, the lower the risks of gum disease recurrence.

What can you do to prevent periodontitis?

Saying hello to your dentist at least once every six months can reduce your risks for gum disease. A study of 26,000 people found that twice-a-year visits may help prevent pneumonia! That’s another good reason to bond with your oral healthcare provider.

In between dental visits, make it a habit to not only brush after every meal but to do so for at least two minutes. According to studies, this can remove 26% more plaque than brushing for only 45 seconds.

Also, it appears that flossing before brushing is more effective in keeping plaque at bay. Flossing first lets you get rid of more debris and plaque stuck between the teeth. Following it up with brushing then ensures they get washed away.

Keeping your immune system healthy by feasting on healthy food can also help keep gum disease at bay. Citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, and almonds are some of your top choices.

Maintain optimal oral hygiene for fewer periodontal worries.

While periodontitis is more common in older adults, even younger people can have it. You don’t have to panic if your gums bleed, but it’s something to feel concerned about.

In case you do notice signs of periodontal disease, it’s best to get in touch with your dentist as soon as possible. This gives your dentist more time and chances to reverse the problem.

Are you interested in learning more about gum disease or tooth decay? If so, our team here at Berrien Dental is ready to help! Please connect with us now, and we’ll be happy to answer any oral health questions you may have.