Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases/periodontal disease than from cavities. There are numerous disease entities requiring different treatment approaches. Simple bacterial gingivitis, infection only of the gums, can be easily controlled with daily brushing and flossing. However, insufficient daily hygiene may allow this infection to proliferate and grow. This may advance the infection allowing it to spread past the gums and into the bone therefore establishing an intraosseous infection known as periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease and decay are both caused by bacterial plaque. Plaque is a colorless film, which sticks to your teeth. Plaque constantly forms on your teeth. By thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs and help prevent periodontal disease.
Periodontal diseases can be accelerated by a number of different factors. If not carefully removed by daily brushing and flossing, plaque hardens into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (or tartar). This hardened shell of bacteria destroys tooth structure, gums, associated ligaments, and bone. The space between your tooth and gums known as the sulcus which measures the attachment point between the tooth and bone is usually about 2-3mm deep in a healthy mouth. When infected, this sulcular depth deepens, it becomes a pocket, decreasing the attachment needed by the tooth for stability and allowing for increased migration of bacteria. This in turn creates an even deeper pocket creating mild to serious problems which may include increased bleeding when brushing and flossing, bad breath (halitosis), pain, mobility, fractures, swelling, and discoloration of the tooth and/or gums. If left untreated, this may lead to tooth loss.
Preventing Gum Disease
The best way 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, people still can develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progress.
Other important factors affecting the health of your gums include:
- Clenching and grinding teeth
- Poor nutrition