|HOW TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF PERIODONTAL (GUM) DISEASE
What is Periodontal Disease?
The word "periodontal" literally means "around the tooth.” Periodontal diseases are serious bacterial infections that destroy the attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold your teeth in your mouth.
As the disease progresses, it is often painless. As you lose more of your bone, the teeth will begin to get loose and then may become painful. You may also develop periodontal (gum) abscesses which can lead to more serious infections in your body.
About 20 to 30% of patients may experience more advanced forms of gum disease which when untreated leads to tooth loss.
The main cause of periodontal disease is infection by bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film of germs that constantly forms on your teeth. In addition, certain behaviors and conditions appear to place patients at greater risk to develop periodontal diseases and experience tooth loss.
Tobacco use is linked with many serious illnesses such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease, as well as numerous other health problems. Tobacco users also are at increased risk for periodontal disease. Smokers appear to be more likely to have periodontal disease, are more likely to have gum disease of greater severity, and are less likely to respond to treatment as well as non-smoking periodontal patients.
The probability of having periodontal disease increases with the amount smoked. The chances of having periodontal disease are lower in former smokers than in current smokers.
Smokeless tobacco can also damage your mouth by causing your gums to recede. This can lead to bone loss and exposed roots and increase your risk for periodontal disease.
Smoking is considered among the most important risk factors for periodontal disease. Quitting your tobacco use may help save your teeth!
Diabetes is a disease that causes altered levels of sugar in the blood.
If you are diabetic, you are at higher risk for developing infections, such as periodontal disease.
The likelihood of periodontal disease increases when diabetes is poorly controlled. Infections such as gum disease can complicate the control of diabetes and result in more severe gum disease than in a non-diabetic patient.
For diabetics whose condition is controlled, periodontal disease responds well to treatment and can be managed successfully. It is important for the dentist to know if there is a history of diabetes in your family.
There is strong evidence that heredity can contribute to the development of periodontal disease. Gum disease is known to develop in patients with various inherited disorders. Specific forms of gum disease in young patients have a clear genetic predisposition. There is also data to suggest genetic influence in the probability of having adult periodontitis. If your parents or siblings have been treated for or lost teeth due to gum disease, you may be at greater risk for this condition.
The probability of developing periodontal disease increases with the number of risk markers present. Some of these risk markers such as heredity cannot be changed; however, knowledge of the conditions which can be modified is important for disease prevention and successful treatment.
Good oral hygiene, quitting your tobacco use, and following the instructions of your dentist and dental hygienist regarding regular visits for examination and treatment are critical in optimizing your periodontal health.
Here are some questions to discuss with your dentist or dental hygienist about your risk for periodontal (gum) disease:
Do you floss?
Does your Mom or Dad have periodontal disease?
Is there a history of diabetes in your immediate family?
Do you use tobacco?
Do your gums often bleed?
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