Why is oral hygiene so important?
Adults over 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases (periodontal disease) than from cavities. Three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal disease is by good tooth brushing and flossing techniques, performed daily.
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. By thorough daily brushing and flossing you can remove these germs and help prevent periodontal disease.
Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease:
- Smoking and Tobacco Use
- Family History (Genetics)
- Improper Dental Hygiene
- Periodontal Pocketing
Bacteria found in plaque produces toxins or poisons 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. Once these pockets have formed, even the most diligent brushing cannot reach to keep these areas clean. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss.
Prevention and Treatment
Although there are some risk factors like family history of tooth loss that we have no control over, the best way to prevent gum disease is by managing the risk factors that we do have control over. Patients with diabetes or family history of diabetes are encouraged to maintain healthy blood glucose ranges. Patients with periodontal disease may be referred to their physicians for evaluation and testing for diabetes. Other factors like smoking and tobacco use can also be evaluated to reduce your risk of periodontal disease. Tobacco cessation is a very personal and challenging decision. Patients who use tobacco are encouraged to quit and offered resources once they make the decision to quit. Once periodontal disease has progressed to pocketing, even the most diligent tooth brushing cannot reach to keep these areas clean. In these cases, periodontal therapy can help reduce the progression of the disease and decrease pocketing. Although once bone loss has taken place it cannot be restored, reducing the risk factors and proper management of the disease can help you maintain a healthy smile for years to come.