Gum disease or periodontal disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over half of all adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. Gum disease is an infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth and is associated with inflammation of the same tissue. Gum disease can cause bad breath, red, swollen gums, bleeding gums, tooth loss and bone loss. Gum disease is caused by plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria that can harden into calculus or tartar if it remains on the tooth for too long. If left untreated, gum disease can contribute to other systemic health problems including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. If you are pregnant, it has also been shown to be linked to premature birth or low birth weight.
If you have been diagnosed with gum disease, the first step is usually a special type of cleaning called “Scaling and Root Planing” that involves cleaning all of the teeth as well as the surfaces of the root that are hard to reach. In the process, rough root surfaces are smoothed to make them easier to keep clean. In some cases of more severe gum disease, a referral to a dental specialist, a Periodontist, may be recommended or possibly even surgery if the tissue or bone is too damaged to be repaired with Scaling and Root Planing alone. As with any dental procedure, after-care is critical to preventing further gum disease. Brushing and flossing daily along with eating a healthy, balanced diet, avoiding tobacco use and continuing with regular dental check ups and cleanings are essential to resisting further gum disease. Even with successful scaling and root planing, if you do not properly care for your teeth afterwards, it is likely that you will develop gum disease again.
Watch Whoopi Goldberg discuss her experiences with gum disease and explain the importance of taking gum disease seriously: http://goo.gl/34hXRj