We all know that oral hygiene is very important. But, what are some consequences of poor oral hygiene habits when it comes to the health of our gums and the tissues that support our teeth? In a previous article, we discussed the cause of gum disease, which is, bacteria. We know that the accumulation of bacteria, specifically, anaerobic bacteria around the teeth and gums will result in inflammation of the gums, which can eventually lead to gum infection and a host of different gum diseases. In this article, we will dive a little deeper into the different types of gum diseases and how to prevent them.
Gingivitis is the most mild form of gum disease and causes the gums to become red, swollen and bleed easily. Frequently, there is little pain associated with this condition. Gingivitis typically results from poor oral hygiene but can be reversed with improved home care (i.e., brushing and flossing) and from professional treatment.
Some known causes of gingivitis can include, diabetes, smoking, aging, inadequate nutrition, systemic diseases, pregnancy, hormonal imbalances, HIV and more.
Untreated gingivitis can progress to a more serious infection, known as periodontitis. In patients who infrequently visit the dentist or whom have poor oral hygiene, plaque and bacteria can spread below the gum line. The bacteria produces toxins which irritate the gums and, if left in place, can stimulate a chronic inflammatory response that essentially destroys the tissues and bone that support the teeth. Gum tissues separate from teeth, forming pockets that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets can deepen and the infection can destroy more gum tissue and bone. Frequently, periodontitis produces little pain. Eventually, the teeth may become loose and need to be extracted.
The most common forms of periodontitis are:
- Chronic Periodontitis: The most common form of periodontitis. It is characterized by chronic inflammation of the gums and the supporting tissues that results in progressive attachment loss, pocket formation or gum recession. Progression of the condition is generally slow, but periods of rapid progression can occur.
- Necrotizing Periodontal Disease: This generalized class of conditions is classified by necrosis of gum tissue, the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone, all of which support the teeth. This condition is most commonly seen in patients with systemic conditions such as immunosuppression, HIV, and malnutrition.
- Aggressive Periodontitis: Generally seen in otherwise healthy patients. It is characterized by rapid breakdown of gum tissue, periodontal ligament and bone and can be associated with intense pain.
- Periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic disease: Can be seen in younger age groups, but can occur later in life. Systemic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and respiratory diseases are frequently associated with this condition.
How can we prevent the initiation of gum disease?
- Brush your teeth. Remember to brush twice a day, at least, and for a minimum of two minutes. Also remember to brush your tongue.
- Floss. Flossing helps remove accumulated bacteria and food debris that in between the teeth that a toothbrush cannot remove.
- Rinse with mouthwash. Mouthwash can help reduce plaque accumulation and removed food particles and bacteria that brushing and flossing missed.
- Know your risk. Age, smoking, systemic conditions such as autoimmune diseases and diabetes can increase your risk of gum disease. If you are at risk, be sure to see your dentist for an evaluation.
- Visit your dentist every 6 months for a routine dental check-up. Identifying problems early is the key to maintaining health.
Dr. Jeffrey Clark, D.M.D. is a dentist at Lakewood Dental Associates in Huntsville, Texas. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston University Goldman School of Dental Medicine and completed a Masters in Medical Science from Boston University School of Medicine. He completed a General Practice Residency program at the University of Utah Hospital & Clinics and has advanced training in many aspects of general dentistry. He received the Predoctoral Research Award and was the recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence in Dental Research from the American Association for Dental Research National Student Research Group (AADR NSRG). His research has been shared at national and international symposiums and at numerous academic institutions including Harvard University.
To learn more about what modern dentistry can do for you visit: www.LakewoodDentalAssociates.com or call 936-291-0032.