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San Antonio Gum Disease & Overall Health

Woman in dental chair with healthy smileAt Legacy Dental SA, we are dedicated to helping our patients achieve healthy smiles, but we also want patients to lead healthier lives. Many patients don’t know that their oral health has an impact overall health. For this reason, maintaining healthy smiles is even more important, especially when it comes to avoiding gum disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is linked to numerous chronic and systemic illnesses, so avoiding this oral health condition may improve your whole body health. To find out more, call our San Antonio dentistry team to schedule an appointment today. We look forward to partnering with you to prevent periodontal disease and other common oral health concerns.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Smiling man and woman

Gum disease is referred to by professionals as periodontal disease. This technical term for the oral health condition may actually be more accurate. Periodontal is a compound of two words – perio meaning around and odont meaning tooth. This is more accurate than simply saying gum disease because periodontal disease can affect both the soft tissue and bone that supports your smile. This oral health concern occurs when plaque and tartar buildups at or below the gum line. Overtime, this acidic plaque and tartar can irritate soft tissue, cause sores, and lead to the loss of supportive alveolar bone and gum tissue. In the early stages, gum disease is often referred to as gingivitis, and the warning signs are subtle. Most patients don’t notice they are suffering from gum disease until it reaches the more advanced stage called periodontitis. This severe form of gum disease causes serious oral health issues like gum tissue recession, shifting bite alignment, and tooth loss. In addition to creating oral health issues, advanced periodontal disease has also been connected to a number of whole body health concerns.

How Does Gum Disease Affect Overall Health?

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Have you ever heard the phrase “mouth-body connection?” This buzz term is used to refer to a number of oral health conditions that adversely impact the whole body. Unfortunately, gum disease has been linked to a number of serious whole body health issues, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, and stroke. The reasons for this connection are still undergoing further research. However, the main connection seems to be the chronic oral infection placing excess strain on the immune system. This strain diminishes the body’s ability to function properly. If you are struggling with gum disease and a chronic or systemic illness, it’s important to talk to your dentist and physician about treating gum disease and your whole body health concern together.

How Can I Prevent Periodontal Disease?

Man and woman brushing teeth

Like most oral health concerns, the easiest way to ensure optimal oral health is to keep up with regular preventive care in our office and at-home. We can partner with you to improve at-home oral health routines, and when necessary, we are happy to work with your physician to ensure the efficacy of treatment for both periodontal disease and chronic health concerns. Some basics to keep in mind include:

  • Brush for at least two minutes at a time at least twice each day
  • Use a soft bristled toothbrush and brush gently to avoid soft tissue damage
  • Place your tooth brush at a 45 degree angle toward the gums to remove plaque at and under the gum line
  • Floss at least once each day, taking care to floss all the way to the gum line on both sides of each tooth
  • Visit our team every six months for dental checkups and professional teeth cleanings
  • Use antimicrobial mouth rinse to reduce the numbers of oral bacteria

Periodontal Therapies

If you are already suffering from gum disease, we are happy to offer a wide range of periodontal therapies to renew your oral health and help you maintain a healthy smile. Patients may receive any of the following therapies:

  • Scaling – systematic removal of plaque and tartar buildup
  • Root planing – smoothing of porous root structure to prevent plaque and tartar buildup
  • Antibiotic therapy – to reduce the numbers of plaque producing oral bacteria, we may recommend oral or topical antibiotics

Professional cleanings – for patients with gingivitis, more frequent professional teeth cleanings may be adequate to fully renew oral health, and for those with more advanced gum disease, three to four professional cleanings each year are often necessary to maintain health