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Preventive Care

The prevention of gum disease can improve your overall health.  Research has shown a link between Periodontal Disease (gum disease) and many health issues affecting people of all ages. The good news is that periodontal disease is the most preventable disease.  By keeping up with your professional dental cleanings combined with the discipline of good oral care at home, you can help prevent a number of systemic health problems as well.

Periodontal Disease Causes

Bacteria in the mouth infects tissue surrounding the tooth, causing inflammation around the tooth leading to periodontal disease. When bacteria stay on the teeth long enough, they form a film called plaque, which eventually hardens to tartar, also called calculus. Tartar build-up can spread below the gum line, which makes the teeth harder to clean. Then, only a dental health professional can remove the tartar and stop the periodontal disease process.

Warning signs of Periodontal Disease

  • Bad breath or bad taste that won’t go away
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures

Prevention and treatment

Gingivitis can be controlled and treated with good oral hygiene and regular professional cleaning.  More severe forms of periodontal disease can also be treated successfully but may require more extensive treatment. Such treatment might include deep cleaning of the tooth root surfaces below the gums, medications prescribed to take by mouth or placed directly under the gums, and sometimes corrective surgery.

To help prevent or control periodontal diseases, it is important to:

  1. Brush and floss every day to remove the bacteria that cause gum disease.
  2. See a dentist twice a year for checkups, or more frequently if you have any of the above warning signs or risk factors mentioned below.

Risk factors

Certain factors increase the risk for periodontal disease:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Stress
  • Heredity
  • Crooked teeth
  • Underlying immuno-deficiencies—e.g., AIDS
  • Fillings that have become defective
  • Taking medications that cause dry mouth
  • Bridges that no longer fit properly
  • Female hormonal changes, such as with pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives