Q: How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?

By Dr. Cheryl Bresnahan

Teeth and GumsPeriodontal or gum disease is a disease that once you have been diagnosed with it, you have it for life. It is a chronic progressive disease and if left untreated, will ultimately dissolve the bone that holds the teeth in. Fortunately, if caught early enough, most cases can be controlled to prevent the progression of the gum disease.

Controlling and Treating Gum Disease

The two biggest factors for controlling gum disease are having more frequent professional cleanings, and your effectiveness at taking care of your teeth on a daily basis.

For cases of moderate to severe gum disease, the gold standard is to be seen every 3 months for a professional cleaning.  Bacteria will build-up in deeper pockets because the depth of the crevice is deeper than your toothbrush and floss can reach.  Studies have proven that it takes anywhere from 2 to 3 months for the bacteria to reorganize in the deeper pockets and after 3 months, the bacteria fuse to the tooth and start to destroy the bone that holds the tooth in, thus the reason for the 3 month professional cleanings.

Plaque Is The Enemy

Controlling the amount of plaque build-up in your mouth will be directly related to the success at controlling periodontal disease in most cases.  If plaque is not removed on a daily basis, it will turn hard and this is called calculus or tartar.

We recommend using a power toothbrush twice a day, and flossing and/or using a Waterflosser® by Waterpik® every night before bed.  Our goal is to provide you all the knowledge and guidance to be able to clean your teeth above the gum line, so that we can concentrate on the pockets where your toothbrush and floss cannot clean, which is ground-zero for gum disease.

So at your next professional cleaning, please feel free to ask about gum disease, and we will provide you with suggestions on how you can maintain optimal dental health and keep your teeth for life.

Dr. Cheryl Bresnahan is a licensed dentist and the founder of Dental Perfections in Whitewater, WI. If you'd like to ask her a question, please visit the Ask Dr. Cheryl section of our Web site.