If you’re being honest, there may be a difference between what you tell your dentist about how frequently you floss and how often you actually clean the spaces between your teeth. Some people want to avoid getting a stern talking-to from the dentist. In fact, an American Academy of Periodontology study found that 27% of people lie to their dentist about their flossing habits.
Flossing may seem like a lot of work, especially in the early morning or right before bed. But flossing is a key part of preventing periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. When left untreated, periodontitis can lead to bleeding gums, chewing problems, and even tooth loss. Catching gum disease in the early stages can help you save your smile.
Are you experiencing symptoms that you think may be related to gum disease? The team at MJM Family & Cosmetic Dentistry can help determine if your oral health needs a helping hand. Malcolm Murray, DDS, and Ranya Ghumrawi, DMD, work with you to create a custom plan to beat back gum disease. Our practice is proud to offer high-quality professional dental services and a comprehensive approach to healthy maintenance of your mouth, teeth, muscles, and aesthetics.
What is gum disease?
Flossing is so important because it helps remove plaque between teeth that your toothbrush bristles may miss. Plaque is a sticky film that forms from leftover food particles and your saliva. It’s composed mainly of bacteria but doesn’t pose any problems when it’s removed before it has a chance to harden.
How gum disease progresses
Once plaque hardens, however, it turns into bacteria-filled tartar, which can cause inflammation and irritation to your gums. If the inflammation persists, it can form pockets between your teeth that fill with more plaque, tartar, and bacteria. This is when gum disease starts — if left untreated, infections can cause a loss of tissue and bone, resulting in tooth loss.
Symptoms of gum disease
Gingivitis is a precursor to the more dangerous periodontal disease. Symptoms of gum disease and gingivitis include:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Bleeding gums
- Very bad breath that remains after brushing/flossing/using mouthwash
- Teeth that feel looser
- Teeth that appear longer over time
At MJM Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we aim to catch gum disease at the earliest stage possible with the help of in-depth screenings during appointments.
Why early intervention is important
The more advanced the gum disease, the more complicated it is to treat. When periodontitis is caught early, as gingivitis, a good professional cleaning and proper home care — including regular flossing — can send gum disease packing. Low-level gum disease can be treated this way as well.
Once gum disease becomes more intense and reaches a moderate or high level, cleanings start to lose their effectiveness and scaling and root planing becomes necessary. During this in-depth procedure, your dentist eliminates tartar and plaque from underneath the gumline and on the surface of the tooth roots.
This decreases inflammation and allows your gums to reattach to your teeth. Our practice uses the advanced NV Soft Tissue Microlaser to remove bacteria and diseased tissue during the scaling and root planing treatment. This results in a much more comfortable procedure than the traditional scalpel method.
If you believe you may have gum disease or are concerned about your oral health, schedule a visit at MJM Family & Cosmetic Dentistry. Call or request an appointment at our Fairfax, Virginia, office today.