Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth caused by bacteria. If left untreated, gum disease will gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Various disease entities require different treatment approaches. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease in genetically susceptible individuals. Daily brushing and flossing will prevent most periodontal conditions.
Why is oral hygiene so important?
Adults over 35 lose more teeth from gum disease (periodontal disease) than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their lives. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by proper daily tooth brushing and flossing.
Periodontal disease and decay are caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film that sticks to your teeth at the gum line, and it constantly forms on teeth. If not carefully removed by daily brushing and flossing, plaque hardens into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar).
The bacteria found in plaque produces toxins or poisons that irritate the gums and may cause them to turn red, swell, and bleed. Prolonged irritation can cause the gums separate from teeth, which creates pockets (spaces) where the bacteria can spread rapidly. As periodontal disease progresses, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place will deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss. Gum disease has also been linked to stroke, heart attack, and complications for diabetics and pregnant women.
Preventing Gum Disease
The best ways to prevent gum disease is effective daily brushing and flossing, as well as regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, some people still develop some form of periodontal disease. Once the disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent progression.
Other important factors affecting the health of your gums include:
- Clenching and grinding teeth
- Poor nutrition