Preventing Gum Disease
Plaque is the main cause of periodontal (gum) disease, but other factors can predispose someone to the disease. Gum disease is a progressive series of events that lead to serious consequences and possible loss of teeth.
The first step in preventing gum disease is to faithfully brush your teeth two or more times a day, floss regularly, and rinse as suggested by your dentist. Even with this attention to your dental health, you also need to have dental checkups twice a year. At these visits, the dental hygienist will remove tartar build up and any plaque that has formed.
Some people ignore the twice-yearly checkups and tartar builds up. Tartar left on the teeth becomes plaque, a soft, sticky film made up of leftover food particles and saliva that mix in your mouth and build up on teeth. Plaque contains millions of bacteria that cause tooth decay and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) which is an early form of gum disease.
If gingivitis is not treated, it can become “periodontitis” (inflammation around the tooth). At this stage, the gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that become infected. Your immune system fights the infection as it spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the teeth may eventually become loose and need to be removed.
Other factors can also contribute to gum disease. Smoking is one of the top risk factors associated with development of gum disease and can lower the chances of successful treatment. Diabetes sufferers are at higher risk of developing infections, including gum disease. Prescription and over the counter medications are contributing factors also.
Some medications reduce flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on the mouth, and other medications cause abnormal overgrowth of gum tissue, making teeth and gums hard to keep clean.
Preventing gum disease can save your teeth – a very good reason to take care of your teeth and gums.