Gum DiseasePeriodontal disease, a.k.a. gum disease, is an epidemic in the United States. The Center for Disease Control estimates that nearly half of all Americans aged 30 and older have some form of gum disease. Periodontal disease can range from simple gum inflammation to a serious disease that can result in major damage to the soft tissue.
When plaque and tarter build up on teeth, the bacteria can inflame the gums causing gingivitis. When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontitis which causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and form “pockets” which become infected. These infections can lead to weakening of the tooth, gums, and jaw bone, which if left untreated, teeth will become loose and need to be removed.
Gum disease presents one of the greatest dangers to your teeth, because the gums are essentially what keep the teeth anchored to the jaw. If the gomphoses (peg-and-socket joint) of the gums are compromised, then teeth will fall out more easily.
There are a number of risk factors for periodontal disease, including:
- Age (higher age, higher risk)
- Genetics (Family History)
- Tobacco Use
The best thing patients can do to prevent gum disease at home is simple: floss. Many patients brush their teeth regularly, but many don’t like flossing. Flossing will remove the bacteria between the teeth and gums, preventing many problems. Mouthwash, too, can help, especially after flossing.