Homewood Dentist | Optimal Gum Health for Seniors

Dentist in Homewood, IL

Dentist in 60430For seniors, it is imperative that gum health is a top priority. As you age, your risk of developing periodontal (gum) disease increases. Periodontal disease is both preventable, and in many cases, reversible. When left untreated, it can lead to more serious complications such as bloody or swollen gums, and even tooth loss. Even more alarming are the numerous studies connecting periodontal disease to other serious illnesses. Here’s what you need to know about gum health as you age.

Periodontal Disease and Your Overall Health

Periodontal disease has been linked to serious health issues. In fact, a recent study conducted by the University of Southampton and King’s College London uncovered a link between periodontal disease and an increase in the rate of cognitive decline in those who suffer from early Alzheimer’s disease. In patients with periodontal disease, the study found cognitive decline underwent a rapid change, occurring six times as fast on average. Periodontal disease has also been found to increase your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. Risk factors for these serious issues increase with age, among other causes, and it is especially important to limit potential risk factors where possible. This can be as easy as improving your gum health with a visit to our office.

The Numbers You Need to Know

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, moderate or severe periodontal disease was found in over 14% of seniors aged 65 to 74. The number increases to more than 20% for those over 75 years of age. Men were found to be more likely than women to have moderate to severe periodontal disease. Smoking was also found to have a significant impact. The same study showed 32% of current smokers had periodontal disease, compared to 14% for those who never smoked.

Steps You Can Take

As you age, it is essential to keep up with your gum health. Doing so is an important link in lowering your risk factors for other serious ailments such as heart disease, stroke, and the impacts of Alzheimer’s disease. You can keep your gums healthy by brushing twice each day for a full two minutes. Be sure to regularly floss your teeth as well. Flossing is an effective way to clean the hard-to-reach cracks and gaps where plaque builds up. Schedule a visit with our team for a complete gum evaluation. We can work with you to devise a course of action to ensure healthy gums.

Homewood Dentist | One Tool for Better Gum Health

Dentist in Homewood, IL

Dentist in 60430Loose teeth, bad breath, and painful, bloody gums – these are among the signs and symptoms of periodontal, or gum, disease. Unfortunately, periodontal disease can also begin without any obvious symptoms. If left undiagnosed or untreated, you could be at risk for irreparable damage to your teeth and gums. The good news is that periodontal disease is preventable. In fact, one of the most effective tools for preventing the disease only takes a minute of your time each day.

Floss to the Rescue

Dental floss is an effective and easy to use tool that can be among your best defenses for preventing periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is caused by a buildup of plaque and bacteria. Even if your daily oral hygiene routine already includes a thorough brushing that lasts for two minutes, at least twice each day, you should be flossing daily as well. Dental floss is highly effective at cleaning areas where your toothbrush cannot reach. Small gaps and tight spaces between teeth catch food debris and sugars and acids from drinks all day long. Flossing helps to clean out these tough to reach spaces.

Facts Behind Flossing

According to a survey referenced by the American Dental Association, only 40% of Americans are flossing each day. The same study showed a clear link between regular flossing and better oral health. Unfortunately, many people also lie about their flossing frequency. A study from the American Academy of Periodontology found that 27% of adults lie to their dentist about their flossing habits.

Tips for Flossing Correctly

It can be confusing to figure out the best way to use floss. Try working with roughly 18 inches of floss, while wrapping most of it around your middle finger. Use roughly one inch to work with for each tooth. Using your thumb and index finger, carefully slide the floss between your teeth. Floss to your gumline, but be gentle. Avoid cutting your gums. Work your way through your 18 inches of floss by using a new, clean section between each pair of adjacent teeth.

It only takes about a minute to floss your teeth each day, but minutes contribute to a lifetime of optimal oral health. Floss is among the most effective tools at your disposal to keep your gums clean and healthy. Get into the habit of flossing your teeth regularly – your gums will thank you.
For more information about gum health, or to schedule a visit to our office, please contact our team.

A few words about… Your Breath

Dentist in Homewood, IL

Homewood IL DentistManufacturers sell us many products by claiming that they freshen our breath. In their ads, they present attractive models with fabulous smiles happily swishing with this or that or having a mint or piece of gum, enjoying life, confident that their breath is fresh. One even claims to kill the germs that cause bad breath.

Sure, their products freshen your breath….. for about 20 minutes! That’s it. Even the most clinically effective mouthwash only works for about 20 minutes. Then the germs are back and in full force. Toothpaste is just as powerless. It’s futile to expect the chemicals in either to help much. So, what helps get rid of bad breath? Lets look at the causes.

Bacteria do contribute to bad breath, so it is important to keep your gums and teeth clean and healthy. Good hygiene is paramount. Clean means less bacteria and less odor. Professional cleanings help a lot by getting rid of tartar that attracts bacterial plaque while also reducing inflammation and gum disease. Home hygiene is very important too. Brushing with a Sonicare electric  toothbrush and flossing and using a WaterPik all help keep bacteria to a minimum while keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

Research shows that scraping your tongue helps too. It reduces the amount of bacteria in your mouth. Brushing your tongue, however, doesn’t help. We have tongue scrapers for you. Stomach acid can contribute to bad breath too. If you think you have Reflux, GERD, or bulimia, go see your doctor. He or she can diagnose it and treat it in a timely fashion.

One of the most important factors in fighting bad breath is water. Most of us are chronically dehydrated. We don’t drink enough water. Caffeine and alcohol dehydrate us even more. A dry mouth allows bacteria to flourish, contributing to bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay. The alcohol in mouthwash can dry your mouth too. So instead of using mouthwash, drink more water.

Chewing gum, especially gum with Xylitol, does help with bad breath in a couple ways. First, it scrubs your teeth and gums while you chew, thus removing some of the bacterial plaque and food deposits which cause bad breath. Second, it increases saliva flow, which moistens the mouth and buffers the acids that plaque produces. That helps reduce the potential for decay and gum disease while it helps freshen your breath. Xylitol helps by slowing the growth of plaque. Bacteria ingest it like sugar, but can’t metabolize it, so they don’t reproduce as fast.

To review…..
Drink more water; keep hydrated.
Get your teeth cleaned professionally.
Brush and floss and use a WaterPik.
Scrape your tongue.
Chew gum or mints with Xylitol.
Skip the mouthwash.

Contact our office to learn more.