Preventing Gum Disease
Adults over the age of 35 lose more teeth to gum diseases than from cavities. At least three out of four adults are affected at some time in their life. The best way to prevent cavities and periodontal diseases is by thorough daily tooth brushing and flossing techniques and regular professional examinations and cleanings. Unfortunately, even with the most diligent home dental care, people can still develop some form of periodontal disease. Once this disease starts, professional intervention is necessary to prevent its progress.
Other important factors that can negatively affect the health of your gums include: tobacco usage, stress, clenching and grinding teeth, some medications, and poor nutrition.
Regular periodontal monitoring and maintenance care(cleanings) are important for all adults with a history of or susceptibility to gum diseases. The frequency of maintenance visits needed for periodontal health varies widely depending on a number of individual factors such as inherited susceptibility, speed of plaque and calculus accumulation, personal home care effectiveness, systemic health, medications and others. For most adults cleaning twice yearly is probably adequate, but for periodontal disease susceptible individuals cleaning every 3 months may be essential.
Periodontal Disease & Tobacco
You are probably familiar with the links between tobacco use and lung disease, cancer, and heart disease. Current studies have now also linked periodontal disease with tobacco usage. Cases of periodontal disease are more severe in smokers and tobacco-users than those who do not use tobacco. There is a greater incidence of calculus formation on teeth, deeper pockets between gums and teeth, and a greater loss of the bone and fibers that hold teeth in your mouth. In addition, your chance of developing oral cancer increases with the use of smokeless tobacco.
Chemicals in tobacco such as nicotine and tar also slow down healing and the predictability of success following periodontal treatment. Quitting smoking and tobacco-use can have a multitude of benefits for your overall and periodontal health.
GUM DISEASE RISK FACTORS
Studies indicate that older people have the highest rates of periodontal disease. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that over 70% of Americans 65 and older have periodontitis.
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. Studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.
Research has indicated that some people may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people with a genetic test before they even show signs of the disease and getting them into early intervention treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.
Stress is linked to many serious conditions such as hypertension, cancer, and numerous other health problems. Stress also is a risk factor for periodontal disease. Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases.
Some drugs, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health. Just as you notify your pharmacist and other health care providers of all medicines you are taking and any changes in your overall health, you should also inform your dental care provider.
CLENCHING OR GRINDING YOUR TEETH
Clenching or grinding your teeth can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.
OTHER SYSTEMIC DISEASES
Other systemic diseases that interfere with the body’s inflammatory system may worsen the condition of the gums. These include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
POOR NUTRITION AND OBESITY
A diet low in important nutrients can compromise the body’s immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection. Because periodontal disease begins as an infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums. In addition, research has shown that obesity may increase the risk of periodontal disease.