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Dentist treating the patient

We all know about the importance of good dental hygiene, but somehow that doesn’t always translate into good dental care at home. Poor attention to quality home care and inconsistent visits to the dentist are common across the country. Perhaps because of these two contributing factors, we’re seeing reports of 50% of US adults over the age of 30 exhibiting signs of periodontitis (or gum disease). So, are you ready to start brushing regularly and flossing every day now? You can start with a visit to your periodontist for a check-up.

Dental Care in America

Many Americans follow the dental care guidelines set by the American Dental Association, or ADA, which recommends brushing teeth for two full minutes twice a day, as well as flossing. According to the Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey, though, 30% of Americans don’t brush their teeth enough. And as many as 23% of Americans didn’t brush their teeth for 2 or more days in the previous year.

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that a2012 study researching the prevalence of periodontitis in the adult population in the United States found that an alarming 47% of Americans over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. That’s close to 65 million Americans.

Periodontal Disease and You – Signs and Symptoms

Improving your dental hygiene practices can’t hurt, but there are some problems that you can’t just brush away at the end of the day. Pay attention to the warning signs of periodontal disease, and see your dentist if you have any concerns.

Any of the following symptoms can be warning signs for gum disease:

  • Red, swollen or bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Receding gum lines or pockets between teeth and gums
  • Shifting or loose teeth, any changes in bite pattern
  • Pain when eating or sensitivity to extreme temperatures

Another risk factor includes a family history of gum disease, as some studies suggest that contributing factors to periodontal disease are hereditary. Smoking impairs oxygen flow in the gums and can make you more prone to developing gum disease. Diabetes and cardiovascular diseases have also been shown to have links to periodontal disease.

If you’re over the age of 30 and have never seen a periodontist or talked about it with your dentist, now may be the time to make an appointment for an evaluation.

Dentists and Periodontists Working Together

After dental school, periodontists train for three more years to become specialists in the structures that keep your teeth in place. That means your bones, your gums, and everything in between. While in many cases your dentist can treat early stages of gum disease, they may recommend you see a periodontist too.

A 2013 Gallup poll concerning health and well-being found that only 65% of US adults visited the dentist that year. So, if you skipped your regular check-up this year and are still concerned about gum disease, visiting your dentist is an excellent place to start.