March 27, 2017
Your teeth, gums and other oral tissues are plagued with bacteria.That’s why the American Dental Association (ADA) wants adults and children to brush twice a day for two minutes and to floss daily as well. Your dentist in Richardson at McDougal & Richards Dentistry emphasizes the same important guideline because these bacteria cause tooth decay and gum disease, and they impact your systemic health, too. Learn why preventive dentistry improves both your oral health and your overall health.
The Problem is Oral Bacteria
Streptococcus mutans a harmful bacteria that grows in your mouth. Living in sticky plaque and hard tartar, these germs secrete acids that corrode tooth enamel. Left alone, bacteria eat through tooth enamel, causing cavities and infection (a dental abscess). All too frequently, teeth need extensive restorative work, such as root canal therapy, fillings, and crowns, or actual tooth loss may occur.
Also, oral bacteria cause inflammation and infection of your gum tissue. The mildest form of infection is gingivitis; this gum disease can progress to periodontitis, which can show symptoms such as:
- Bleeding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Receding gums and bone
- Change in the fit of a bridgework or a partial denture
- Mobile teeth
- Tooth loss
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 15 to 20 percent of adults between the ages of 35 and 44 have periodontitis, or advanced gum disease. It’s a leading cause of tooth loss in the United States.
When Oral Bacteria Travel
Medical and dental studies show that when bacteria dominate your teeth and gums, inflammation results. That’s why infected gums are red, swollen and bleed easily. Dr. McDougal and Dr. Richards and their hygienists can see this on visual inspection. Additionally, the doctor sees periodontal pockets–areas where gum tissues pull away from tooth surfaces. Gum pockets of one to three millimeters 3mm are normal. Pockets measuring four millimeters or more are diagnostic for gum disease.
Dr. McDougal and Dr. Richards and their colleagues note that patients with advanced gum disease frequently have systemic health issues. Many problems involve inflammation. Arthritis and coronary artery disease are examples. Other problems linked to gum disease are:
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Type-2 Diabetes
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Respiratory, kidney and liver disease
Preventing Gum Disease and Its Related Problems
Your diet, oral hygiene habits, smoking, excessive alcohol use and family history increase your chances for gum disease. However, preventive dentistry from your dentist and disciplined oral hygiene at home reduce the risk.
Additionally, keep carbohydrate consumption low, and drink plenty every day. Stop smoking as the toxins in cigarettes contribute to gum infection.
Maintain your oral health by seeing your family dentist in Richardson every six months. He checks your mouth for tooth decay, gum disease, oral cancer (highly curable when caught early), bite problems, TMJ (jaw joint) Dysfunction and other issues which also impact your systemic well-being.
Your dental hygienist scales tooth surfaces and gum line, removing plaque and tartar. At McDougal & Richards Dentistry, the team uses Florida Probe software to chart and keep track of your gum pockets, the spaces between your gums and tooth surfaces. This innovative system helps your dentist understand the status of your gum health better.
If your dentist discovers gum disease, he may advise more frequent cleanings, deep tooth scaling and root planing and instillation of antibiotics to quell infection and inflammation. Also, he offers LANAP, or Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure, a gentle, no-suture way to debride infected gums and speed healing.
Can My Dentist Help My Overall Health?
Yes, routine visits to your dentist can improve your health. Schedule your semi-annual check-up with Dr. Richards or Dr. McDougal today for your brightest, strongest smile and best overall well-being.
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