Do you know what’s going on below your gum line? When we talk about oral health and gum disease prevention, it’s all about removing plaque and food particles before they turn into tartar. Tartar tends to settle at the gum line and lead to oral bacteria explosions and acid attacks.
When you have an excessive amount of bacteria in your mouth, they produce acid, which wears away at your enamel and can lead to cavities and tooth decay. The bacteria in your mouth can also colonize below your gum line. This can lead to gum inflammation and pockets between your teeth and gum tissue. When this happens, you can develop gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Protecting Your Teeth and Your Gums
The number one way to protect your teeth against cavities and your gums from gingivitis and periodontal disease is to maintain a regular at-home oral hygiene routine. This involves:
- Brushing your teeth in the morning and at night as well as 30 minutes after each meal
- Flossing once every 24 hours with dental floss, tape, or dental flossers
- Using an antibacterial or fluoride fortified mouthwash
- Seeing your dentist every six months for professional teeth cleaning and exam
When you brush your teeth, it’s extremely important to pay attention to your technique and to reach every visible tooth surface. This includes the front, back, and chewing sides of your teeth. You’ll also need to angle your toothbrush toward your gums at a 45-degree angle and brush along your gum line. This removes all the plaque and bacteria that’s managed to get as far as 3mm below your gum line.
If you have difficulty focusing on the angle of your toothbrush, as well as brushing, you can switch from a manual to an electric toothbrush. With an electric toothbrush, all you have to focus on is reaching every tooth surface and angling the toothbrush correctly. The electric toothbrush will perform the brushing action.
Understanding the 3mm Limit of At-Home Oral Hygiene Products
It’s important to understand that at-home oral hygiene products are only designed to reach about 3mm below the gum line, and this includes water flossers. For individuals with healthy gums, the pockets between the teeth range from 1mm to 3mm. Any pocket that is deeper than 3mm indicates the beginning stages of periodontal disease.
Once you have pockets than extend below 3mm, they must be cleaned and treated with antibiotics by a professional periodontist in order to slow or stop gum disease progression. If you don’t visit a periodontist for your deep pockets and gum disease, it can worsen into severe periodontal disease. This is because you won’t be able to remove the tartar, plaque, and bacteria that’s developed deeper than 3mm everytime you brush and floss.
If the pockets between your teeth and gum extend deep below the gum line, you may start to experience loose teeth and deep cavities. You’ll also experience it at the root level, which may lead to the need for tooth extractions and tooth replacement treatments, like dental implants. Not to mention, all the bacteria that’s colonized below your gum line can result in gum tissue recession and even jaw bone loss. It can also complicate your gum health, leading to the need for bone and gum grafts.
Reaching Below the Gum Line
Our periodontist in Vero Beach can examine your teeth and gums to determine if you have any cavities, tooth decay, or if you are showing signs of gingivitis or periodontal disease. If you do have gum disease, we can develop a treatment plan that removes all the plaque, bacteria and infection below your gum line, fill any cavities, and perform any needed tooth extractions. Once your gum disease is under control, we can also replace your missing teeth with dental implants in order to improve your smile and make it easier for you to chew and speak.
If you think you have gum disease or have had tooth extractions in the past and want to explore your tooth replacement options, contact our periodontist in Vero Beach at 772-569-9700 today.