Studies show smiles can make us more attractive, lower our stress levels, elevate our moods, and make us look younger.
Therefore, it’s important to be well and keep our teeth and gums smile-ready. Unfortunately, many of us don’t. Nearly 50 percent of U.S. adults age 30 and older have periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease. In adults 65 and older, that number spikes to 65 percent.
Periodontal disease is not a disease that’s regularly discussed, despite the fact it’s 2.5 times more prevalent than diabetes. And, a 2015 survey from the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) showed that 27 percent of U.S. adults lie to their dentists about how often they floss their teeth, with 15 percent saying they’d rather wash dirty dishes than floss. The survey also found that a third of American adults say a smile is the first thing they notice when meeting someone.
Here are some more fast facts about periodontal disease from the AAP:
- There are two types of periodontal disease: gingivitis, the mildest form, and periodontitis, which is advanced gum disease.
- Symptoms of periodontal disease include red and swollen gums, receding gums, bleeding when flossing, loose teeth, and persistent bad breath.
- Research has linked gum disease with several other diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
- Gum disease can lead to social anxiety and discomfort from loss of teeth and bad breath
Now here’s the good news. There are dental experts out there who can help treat gum disease—periodontists. Periodontists specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, and they receive three additional years of training after dental school. With our skillset, periodontists know why it’s important to keep your gums healthy to be able to chew and smile forever.
Brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and receiving an annual comprehensive periodontal evaluation will help keep your gums—and your smile—spectacular. There are also non-surgical therapies or more advanced procedures, such as dental implant placement, available if needed.
Taking care of your gums shouldn’t be an afterthought. That’s why the AAP has launched the Love The Gums You’re With educational campaign and Gumblr, a new website that helps you find a local periodontist and offers information about gum disease, features interactive quizzes, and much more. Check it out at Gumblr.org!
Because spectacular smiles start with healthy gums, and the gums you have are yours for life, it’s crucial that you Love The Gums You’re With.
By Dr. Wayne Aldredge for the Healthy Moms Magazine
Dr. Wayne Aldredge is President of the American Academy of Periodontology. He’s also on the Board of Directors of the Northeastern Society of Periodontists—the largest regional periodontal society in the United States—and a former President of the New Jersey Society of Periodontists.