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Is Periodontal Disease Marring Your Smile?

cary girl smiling
Creative Commons image by Walt Stoneburner

When you think about improving your smile, you probably focus on the shape, color and position of your teeth. Many people feel that with some bonding, veneers, adult braces and teeth whitening, their smiles would be exactly what they want to see when they look in the mirror. While this is true in many cases, if you have periodontal disease, you need to get that under control before your teeth can be truly healthy. Here are some tips on what to do about your aching, unattractive gums.

See Your Dentist

If you have periodontal disease, you might not know about it. The signs of gingivitis, the earliest phase of gum disease, can be subtle. They include mild swelling, redness, light bleeding when you floss, and growing pockets between the gum tissue and your teeth. When you see your hygienist for your biannual cleanings, he or she will measure the depth of the pockets in your gums. If they are deeper than three millimeters, your dentist will evaluate you for other signs of gingivitis. At this stage, a good professional cleaning and vigilance to your brushing and flossing regimen can keep the disease from worsening; these steps can also reverse the minor damage and prevent it from returning.

Brush and Floss Regularly

The best way to both prevent and treat mild periodontal disease is to brush and floss regularly. Use a soft brush to clean all surfaces of your teeth at least twice daily. Focus attention on your gumline. In addition, you should be flossing every night before you go to bed. (If it works better for your schedule to floss in the morning or after lunch, that’s fine too, but removing plaque and bacteria before bed is particularly effective.) If you have braces, bridgework, crowded teeth or spaces between your teeth, talk to your dentist about the right type of floss for you to use. Otherwise, waxed or unwaxed regular floss is fine; you can choose what you like best.

Seek a Specialist If Necessary

If you are having trouble controlling your periodontal disease with regular dental care and a good oral hygiene regimen, it might be time to ask for a referral to a periodontist. This is a gum specialist who can perform more advanced procedures to remove infections, promote bone growth and reduce your risk of losing teeth. In some cases, gum disease can be made worse by underlying health conditions; if you have diabetes, heart disease or other health conditions, you might need to see your general physician or cardiologist to get your illness under control in order to help treat your gum disease.

We want you to achieve your best smile, and having healthy gum tissue is important. Please call us if you have concerns about your gums or any other part of your oral health that is impacting the way you feel about your teeth when you look in the mirror.

Call 919.388.3111 to make an appointment or

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