Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the gums, which can destroy the support of your natural teeth. There are numerous disease entities requiring different treatment approaches. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. Daily brushing and flossing will prevent most periodontal conditions.
Adults over the age of 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases, than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life.
Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth at the gum line. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth, and can turn into tartar (calculus) if not removed daily. Bacteria found in plaque produces toxins that irritate the gums, which may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form. As periodontal disease progresses, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss.
Preventing Gum Disease
The best way to prevent gum disease is effective daily brushing and flossing in addition to regular professional dental examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people will often still develop some form of periodontal disease.
Once periodontal disease starts, professional intervention is needed to prevent its progress.
Other important factors affecting the health of your gums include:
- Clenching and grinding of the teeth
- Poor nutrition
Periodontal Disease Systemic Illness
Multiple scientific studies have indicated a link between periodontal (gum) disease and systemic diseases.
Periodontal disease is a risk factor for systemic diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory illness, pre-term and low birth weight babies. Similar to smoking, periodontal disease may put people at increased risk for health problems. Studies have shown that infections in the mouth can cause havoc elsewhere in the body.
Therefore, it is extremely important to maintain a healthy mouth through meticulous home care (brushing, flossing, rinsing) and professional cleanings and examinations. Dental care and oral health play a large role in helping ensure overall good health.