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How To Prevent Gum Disease
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, a chronic inflammation and infection of the gums and surrounding tissue, is the major cause of about 70% of adult tooth loss, affecting three out of four persons at some point in their life.
What causes gum disease?
Bacterial plaque a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth is recognized as the primary cause of gum disease. Specific periodontal diseases may be associated with specific bacterial types.
If plaque is not removed each day by brushing and flossing, it hardens into a rough, porous substance called calculus (also known as tartar). Toxins (poisons) produced and released by bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. These toxins cause the breakdown of the fibers that hold the gums tightly to the teeth, creating periodontal pockets which fill with even more toxins and bacteria. As the disease progresses, pockets extend deeper and the bacteria moves down until the bone that holds the tooth in place is destroyed. The tooth eventually will fall out or require extraction.
Are there other factors?
Yes. Genetics is also a factor, as are lifestyle choices. A diet low in nutrients can diminish the bodys ability to fight infection. Smokers and spit tobacco users have more irritation to gum tissues than non-tobacco users, while stress can also affect the ability to ward off disease. Diseases that interfere with the bodys immune system, such as leukemia and AIDS, may worsen the condition of the gums. In patients with uncontrolled diabetes, where the body is more prone to infection, gum disease is more severe or harder to control.
What does periodontal
In the early stages, most treatment involves scaling and root planing removing plaque and calculus around the tooth and smoothing the root surfaces. Antibiotics or antimicrobials may be used to supplement the effects of scaling and root planing. Proper daily cleaning is also needed to achieve a satisfactory result. More advanced cases may require surgical treatment, which involves cutting the gums, and removing the hardened plaque build-up and recontouring the damaged bone. The procedure is also designed to smooth the root surfaces and reposition the gum tissue so it will be easier to keep clean.
Removing plaque through daily brushing, flossing and professional cleaning is the best way to minimize your risk. Your dentist can design a personalized program of home oral care to meet your needs. If a dentist does not do a periodontal exam during a regular visit, the patient should request it. Children should also be examined.
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