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How Often Do my Teeth Need To Be Checked for Gum Disease by a Family Dentist?
Gum disease is a serious problem that can be diagnosed by a family dentist during a regular appointment. However, not everyone sees the dentist annually, which means that oral health complications can arise unnoticed and go unchecked for years. Understanding how gum disease can affect daily life and how often it should be checked for can motivate patients to make regular cleaning appointments during the year.
Gum disease defined
Gum disease, which includes both gingivitis and periodontitis, is when gums become reddened and inflamed, and bleed easily during brushing or flossing. Gum disease that goes untreated can lead to teeth loosening and falling out, weakened jaw muscles, and a loss of jawbone. Since the consequences of gum disease can be severe, getting regularly checked for signs of it by a dentist is necessary to have time to take preventative steps.
Causes of the disease
Plaque is an adhesive yellow substance that naturally becomes established on the surfaces of teeth. It constantly builds throughout the day in between brushings, and can return in as little as 12 hours. Plaque can eventually turn into tartar, a significantly harder material that cannot be removed by a toothbrush. Plaque and tarter house bacteria that release toxins that eat away at tooth enamel and attack the gums.
Effects in the mouth
If bacteria are allowed to continue to attack the gums and teeth, natural pockets that exist between the two will widen, creating a larger space for plaque to accumulate. More bacteria release more toxins until the gums start to pull away from teeth roots. The toxins can go deeper into the muscles, tendons, and bone of the mouth, gradually weakening them. Without proper support, teeth can decay and fall out.
Reversing gum disease
Once gum disease has been identified, a patient may need to schedule a deep cleaning appointment. This appointment specifically targets plaque hidden below the gumline. A dentist may use specialized tools to scrape plaque and tartar away from deep pockets. As soon as the plaque is removed, the mouth should begin to recover. Gums will be less sensitive and stop bleeding when touched. They will start to grow back around the teeth roots, and tooth enamel can be restored.
When to see a dentist
Patients should not wait until there is an obvious problem, such as pain in a tooth or oversensitivity in the gums, to see a family dentist. For most adults, it is recommended to see a dentist once every six months for a general cleaning. Not only does the cleaning remove any debris that a patient has missed in brushing, but it gives the dentist the chance to look for signs of gum disease. A dentist may suggest that certain patients make more than two appointments per year if problems persist.
Daily oral hygiene habits like brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash can all prevent gum disease. Practicing good habits means patients may have to see the family dentist a little less.
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