All your life you have heard about the importance of keeping your teeth clean for fear of tooth decay. Chances are you have had cavities, and maybe even lost a tooth or two, because of a cavity that got out of hand and became infected. What you may not know is that it is not tooth decay that causes older adults to lose their teeth. It is gum disease.
Brushing and Flossing is Critical, But Not Enough
To be sure, brushing and flossing your teeth is vital to keeping your oral health at its best; however, even those who brush and floss regularly can be at risk for gum disease. Gingivitis does not only happen to those with poor oral hygiene. Medications, some medical conditions, hormone fluctuations as well as genetics can increase the risk for gum disease.
It starts with plaque buildup on the surface of a tooth. The plaque hardens and become tartar or calculus. Brushing and flossing are not enough to remove this substance. It continues to accumulate and pushes the gum away from the tooth. A pocket forms and this fills with bacteria and food debris, which leads to infection. The gums grow swollen and may turn bright pink or red and bleed when you brush or floss. The infection continues, spreads to the bone and the bone dissolves. At this point, the tooth becomes loose in the socket and will eventually fall out.
Preventing Gum Disease
Regular dental checkups and professional teeth cleaning can prevent gum disease. The hygienist or dentist uses special dental instruments to clear away the tartar, so the tooth surface is smooth and the gums can stay attached. But even if gum disease is present, if caught in its early stages, it is easy to reverse.
Prevention of gum disease by practicing good oral hygiene and making your annual visit to the dentist is the best way to make sure your teeth last a lifetime.
Posted on behalf of Gramercy Dental Center