What is the first word that pops into your head when someone says “dentistry”? If you’re like 99.9% of people, your mind probably immediately goes to “teeth.” When it comes to a person’s oral health, the condition of the teeth is extremely important, but it’s not the be-all-end-all. In truth, periodontal, or gum health matters just as much when it comes to a healthy smile as well as a healthy body. Why is gum health so significant? Your dentist in Lawrenceburg is here to explain this often overlooked aspect of dentistry.
What Does “Periodontal” Mean?
We kind of threw a new word at you in the introduction, so we thought we should take a moment to explain it a bit further.
When talking about gum health, dentists will usually refer to it as “periodontal health,” or just “perio” for short. This term refers not only to the gums, but the roots of the teeth as well as the bone that supports them. These structures all work together to keep the teeth firmly in place and healthy, and should any one of them be compromised due to periodontal disease (a common bacterial infection), it can lead to a variety of dental problems that ultimately end in tooth loss!
The Importance of Perio Maintenance
So now that you’re thinking about your gums, you’re probably wondering, “So how do I take care of them and prevent an infection?” Fortunately, the way to achieve and maintain healthy gums is very similar to how you do it with your teeth, in that brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups are key. Just like your teeth, this will prevent the buildup of plaque and bacteria that can lead to a harmful infection.
In fact, before doing any kind of dental work (such as a crown, filling, etc.), many dentists will specifically clean the periodontal area in order to lower the risk of infection. This is simply a preventive measure to avoid post-treatment complications, especially when it concerns any kind of surgical procedure.
Periodontal disease is actually the most common dental problem in the entire world, so very often, people need the help of their dentist to deal with it. What does this actually involve?
Typically, your dentist will screen your gums at every standard checkup, and should they spot a problem, they’ll initially address it by helping you understand the best ways to clean your gums at home. Most people actually miss their gums while brushing! If further treatment is needed, they’ll perform a deep cleaning that is specifically designed to remove plaque and bacteria from below the gum line. Afterward, they may apply a topical antibiotic as well in order to kill the most well-hidden bacteria.
If all of this isn’t enough to get a patient’s periodontal disease under control, a dentist will likely refer them to a trusted periodontist, or gum specialist, to perform a surgical treatment to safely remove and rebuild any damaged tissue.
While taking care of your teeth is important, your gums should always be kept in mind as well. When brushing at home, make sure to gently scrub along the gum line, and floss below it as well. That way, you can rest assured that you have a healthy mouth and a smile you’re always ready to show off.
About the Author
Dr. Brian Oyler is a general, restorative, and cosmetic dentist based in Lawrenceburg, IN. He and his team are committed to providing comprehensive dentistry for local families that takes care of more than just their teeth, including periodontal therapy.
For more tips on helping you and your loved ones avoid periodontal disease, he can be contacted through his website.