Periodontal Gum Disease: An Underestimated Threat to Oral Hygiene

Periodontal disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. This silent illness is largely asymptomatic (with no signs of disease) until it is highly advanced. This allows it to spread easily and damage a mass as large as the amount of skin extending from wrist to elbow on the arm. It effects at least 50 percent of the population older than 30 and even that may a gross underestimate.

Periodontal Disease impacts every cultural, economic, social and racial group. Recently, even actress Whoopi Goldberg from “The View” was affected by it.

Periodontal Disease, or gum disease, affects the gums and the bones supporting the teeth due to a chronic bacterial infection. It begins when bacteria in plaque cause the gums to become inflamed. Gingivitis is the first periodontal disorder. This causes the gums to redden, swell and bleed easily. If left untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis where it causes destruction of tissues and bone supporting the teeth.

Periodontal disease can damage a single tooth to many teeth and can even extend its impacts on additional areas of the body.

How to fight gum disease:

Prevention and Treatment

“Periodontal disease is a bigger problem than we thought. It is a call to action for anyone who cares about his or her oral health.” said Samuel Low, DDS, MS, associate dean and professor of periodontology at the University of Florida College of Dentistry, and president of the American Academy of Periodontology. “Not only should you take good care of your periodontal health with daily tooth brushing and flossing,” says Dr. Low, “you should expect to get a comprehensive periodontal evaluation every year”

It is recommended that everyone see a periodontist regularly. It is especially important if you have multiple risk factors. However, if you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, see a periodontist as soon as possible. Periodontists are dental specialists with three additional years of education beyond dental school and are highly trained to treat every aspect of the disease.

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