Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is easier than you think

Many people assume that gum disease is reserved for people who do not brush and care for their teeth. This cannot be farther from the truth. Gum disease can be present in a seemingly healthy mouth, and takes millions of American by surprise each year.

While gum disease can occur at any age, by age 34, 6 out of 8 people develop gum disease in one form or another. Most people use pain as an indication of a tooth problem. Gum disease however, is virtually painless. If not treated, gum disease leads to complete tooth loss and irreversible gum and bone loss. Gum disease is characterized into two stages;  gingivitis and periodontitis. 

 - Gingivitis occurs when the gums become inflamed. It is caused primarily by bacteria that develops and festers in the plaque on the teeth. The mouth contains more bacteria than any other part of the body. There are more bacteria in the human mouth than in a dog’s mouth.  While it is the job of the saliva to break down bacteria, the enzymes cannot get rid of all of it. It is the bacteria that forms a film of plaque on the tooth surface.

Regular brushing and flossing removes plaque. Dentists recommend brushing 2-3 times per day and after every meal. Brushing regularly is easy if you keep a toothbrush and toothpaste with you. There are also new disposable tooth cleaning items on the market that make brushing on the go easy. Flossing is also made easy with disposable floss picks that are mint flavored as well!

Smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco both contain nicotine and will lead to gum disease over time. When you smoke, calculus forms on your teeth that regular brushing and flossing will not remove. Your dentist is the only person that can remove calculus during a professional cleaning. If it is not removed, then it creates a gap between the tooth and the gum, where bacteria forms and gingivitis develops. 

As easy as Gingivitis is to get, it is just as easy to remove. A simple treatment at your dentist’s office combined with regular brushing and flossing at home will eradicate Gingivitis completely. 

 - Periodontitis, simply stated, is the result of untreated gingivitis. While Gingivitis is gum inflammation, Periodontitis is a gum infection. Periodontitis cannot be controlled or eradicated with regular brushing. Periodontitis can only be cured by removing the calculus that has accumulated around the teeth. The cause of the infection is enough to make you feel sick to your stomach. The bacteria in the calculus produce waste matter. This biological waste creates toxins that deteriorate the gum line and form pockets around the teeth, where the infection develops. The infection is painless and continues to progress unnoticed. Periodontal treatment consists of scaling treatments that are performed over several visits. If left untreated, Periodontitis will progress to advanced stages, where the only treatment is a surgical procedure designed to remove the affected gum tissue, and uncover the tooth structure. The dentist will clean the tooth and remove any remaining plaque and calculus. If the disease has affected the bone, the area may require a bone graft and surgical placement of the remaining tissue.

Gum disease usually affects more than one tooth, and sometimes all of them. The scary part about gum disease is that seemingly healthy teeth can be riddled with gum disease. X-rays and a thorough exam will quickly uncover gum disease at even the earliest stages. 

Once your gum disease is removed, regular brushing and flossing will keep it from returning. You dentist may require a few follow up visits to ensure that the gums have return to their normal position and the gaps are gone. 

 The best way to avoid gum disease and to maintain healthy teeth and gums is to see your dentist regularly. The American Dental Association recommends regular checkups twice per year to keep your teeth healthy. The regular checkups allow the dentist to recognize tooth decay, gum disease and other oral issues before they become full-blown cavities or periodontal disease.

Provided by: The Online Practice

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