You might think a dentist just looks at your teeth, and we really can’t blame you. After all, the word dentist basically means “tooth-ist.” But it’s important to understand that dentists don’t just look at your teeth. In fact, dentists also practice periodontics, which means “around the tooth.”

In many ways, it’s looking at this area around the teeth that might actually be most important for your oral and overall health.

What Is Periodontics?

On the most basic level, periodontics is the study and care of the supporting structures of teeth. This includes the gums; the cementum, which covers the tooth root the way enamel covers the crown; the alveolar bone, which is the bone that supports the teeth; and the periodontal ligament, which is the connective tissue that connects the tooth to the alveolar bone. Together, these are called the periodontium.

Your teeth couldn’t stay healthy without healthy supporting structures. Unfortunately, there’s plenty that could put those structures at risk. For example, periodontal diseases like gingivitis will attack the periodontium, but ultimately your teeth will pay the price: Periodontal diseases are the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. If you have symptoms characteristic of gum disease, a dentist can help.

But the importance of your periodontium doesn’t end if you lose a tooth. The alveolar bone provides support to dental implants/dental-implants'}}}} used to replace your teeth.

Fighting Gum Disease

Gum disease doesn’t just affect your oral health. Caused by the bacteria buildup of plaque, untreated gum disease can cause excessive inflammation that can begin the affect the bloodstream, as well. Over a long period of time, bacteria from the mouth can seep into the bloodstream causing inflammation and other damage throughout the body. Periodontal disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and  rheumatoid arthritis. More recently, it’s even been linked to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease

The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice regular oral hygiene. This includes brushing twice a day, flossing once, and keeping up with your professional cleanings. The American Dental Association suggests visiting the dentist twice a year to reduce the buildup of tartar, and the address oral health complications before they advance.

If it’s been awhile since your last appointment, consider scheduling one to keep up to date with your oral health.

If you are looking for a dentist in midtown Manhattan to help you maintain your oral health, please call (212) 557-8668 today for an appointment with Dr. Karthilde Appolon at Appolon Dental Group in Columbus Circle.