How to Prevent Gum Disease

By: Patricia Woloch

Gingivitis is a common type of gum disease and bleeding, red, or irritated gums characterize it. It's also the common precursor to periodontitis, a more serious type of gum disease.

"Unfortunately, many people ignore the blood coming from their gums when they brush or floss," says Dr. Dennis Ikuta, a Reedley, California cosmetic dentist. "If you see blood in your sink, it's time to schedule an initial consultation, rather than letting the problem persist."

Gum Disease is Treatable
Fortunately, if you have either gingivitis or periodontitis, there are several effective treatments. These treatments involve deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line. This is called SRP, which stands for "Scaling and Root Planning."

Scaling and Root Planning, or SRP, is a non-invasive procedure. The degree of cleaning, and the amount of time the procedure takes, depends on the degree of disease in the individual patient.

There are also prescription drugs available. The most popular is called Periostat, and has been used effectually since 1998. Periostat - which is a pill - suppresses an enzyme (called collagenase), which contributes to the destruction of the teeth and gums. Often, Periostat is taken in conjunction with an SRP procedure.

Gum Disease is Preventable
Of course, the best treatment against gum disease is to never have it in the first place. That's why dentists focus on prevention as much as possible. Your dentist can give you a personalized dental health plan to follow. Typically, this includes regular brushing and flossing, as well as the use of special mouthwashes.

Gum disease isn't pleasant, but it can be prevented and treated. The key is having regular check-ups, so you and your dentist can get a jump on any potential problems before they develop into something more serious.

So if you find "a little pink in the sink," it's time to schedule a check-up. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to more severe problems, including tooth-loss. The treatments are simple and effective, however. In fact, the most common reason why gum disease worsens is because the patient simply neglects to visit a dentist. Don't let embarrassment, laziness or fear prevent you from getting the treatment you deserve.

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