Did you know that when it comes to teeth extractions in seniors, West Virginia ranks as the least-healthy state? According to America’s Health Ratings, 30.4 percent of West Virginia seniors have had all teeth removed due to tooth decay or gum disease in 2016.
At the Landing Dental Spa, our team understands that we are in a very high-risk state for gum disease. That is why it is important to schedule bi-annual regular check-up exams.
WHAT CAUSES GUM DISEASE?
Our mouths are constantly full of bacteria and other particles. That is why it is very important to brush and clean your teeth. A build-up of plaque from lack of cleaning, brushing and flossing can harden and form into tartar. This tartar can only be removed by professional cleaning.
Smoking is the number one risk factor for gum disease, however, other risk factors include diabetes, hormonal changes in girls and women, medications that lessen saliva flow, certain illnesses and genetic susceptibility.
SYMPTOMS OF GUM DISEASE
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, we recommend you contact your dental office right away. It is important to catch gum disease while it is still early.
- Random loose teeth
- Receding gums
- Teeth appear longer
- Chewing becomes painful
- Tender/bleeding gums
- Red or swollen gums
- Bad breath that will not go away
HOW TO TREAT GUM DISEASE
Depending on how advanced the gum disease is, treatment may vary. Less invasive procedures include scaling, which removes the tartar and bacteria from the surface of the tooth and beneath the gums. It can be performed with instruments or lasers depending on the intensity of the disease.
Root planing is another option. During this procedure, the root surfaces are smoothed, which helps discourage the further build-up of tartar and bacteria. Topical or oral antibiotics can be administered to help control bacterial infection and to help eliminate infection-causing bacteria.
If the disease is more invasive, larger precautions such as surgery will take place.
Tiny incisions in the gum are made so that the gum tissue can be lifted back. This then exposes the roots for a more effective scaling and root planing. Sometimes, the underlying bone needs to be reconstructed before the gum tissue can be moved back into place.
Soft Tissue Grafts
A small amount of tissue is removed from the top of the mouth and is then attached to the affected site. The purpose of this procedure is to reduce further gum recession, cover exposed roots, and give the teeth an overall more appealing look.
When gum disease has destroyed the bone surrounding the root of your tooth, bone grafting will be applied. The bone used can either be your own bone or a donor or synthetic bone. This procedure helps prevent total tooth loss by holding your own tooth in place. Hopefully, it can help regenerate new bone growth.
The bone that was destroyed by bacteria can possibly regrow with tissue regeneration. Special material of a biocompatible fabric is placed by the dentist between your tooth and bone with the hope that unwanted tissue will no longer be able to enter the area that is healing.
PREVENTING GUM DISEASE
There are preventative measures that everyone should practice in order to avoid gum disease.
It is important to brush your teeth, the right way, at least twice a day. Here is a great guide to making sure you’re brushing your teeth the proper way. Brushing between and after meals and snacks is also recommended. Remember to use a soft toothbrush head and to replace the toothbrush every three months. An electric toothbrush can help give a better clean and reach surfaces that a non-electric toothbrush may not reach. Flossing daily, as well as using a mouth wash that prevents plaque build-up is recommended too.
Regular and professional dental cleanings can help prevent gum disease as well as avoiding smoking or chewing tobacco.
WHY IS WEST VIRGINIA THE MOST VULNERABLE?
The largest risk factors associated with gum disease are:
- Tobacco usage
- Excessive alcohol usage
- Lack of dental insurance coverage/limited access to preventative dental care
- Low income in the household
- Adults with lower educational attainment
Remember to always use toothpaste that contains fluoride, brush and floss regularly and avoid tobacco and limit alcohol usage.
Especially during Oral Health Awareness Month, we want to make sure that everyone has clean and healthy teeth and gums. We recommend going to your dental check-ups regularly.
At the Landing Dental Spa, we want to contribute to crushing the high statistics about poor oral health care in West Virginia. If you or someone you know may be experiencing one or multiple symptoms of gum disease, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 304-594-2200.