Gum disease doesn’t seem very serious. After all, tooth decay is the major need for dental repair, isn’t it? Gum disease begins very subtly, and, unlike decay, doesn’t cause much discomfort at first. This is why gum disease can become very serious without a person being aware of the condition.
A general dentist discovers gum disease through a routine cleaning treatment, but dental cleaning treatments may seem rather unnecessary if a person’s teeth appear to be in good condition. This is where the fallacy lies. Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss.
In the early stages of gum disease, called gingivitis, plaque builds up and hardens on the necks of teeth. Plaque build-up is a feature of most Western dietary customs. Refined foods are a large part of Western eating habits, and refined food intake quickly attaches to the necks of teeth unless mechanically removed. Other factors that may contribute to gingivitis are pregnancy, substance abuse, certain medications or immune deficiencies.
Plaque on the necks of teeth and its toxins promote a chronic, inflammatory response in which the gums swell and become red. They gradually separate from the teeth, creating pockets, eventually destroying tooth enamel and bone.
Without an examination by a general dentist, the condition of gingivitis is often overlooked, until periodontitis occurs. Chronic periodontitis happens when the inflammation and detachment of gum tissue undermines the tissues and bone supporting a tooth. As this support gives way, the tooth becomes loose and falls out. Often, this loosening is very painful, because serious infection from the toxins emitted by harmful bacteria is now pocketing within the gum tissue and underlying bone. Death of the tissues and systemic inflammation is almost certain at this point. Arterial inflammation is a common side-effect of periodontal disease, resulting in reduced blood flow, heart attack or stroke.
How to prevent gum disease
Gum disease prevention begins right at home. Flossing between the teeth is the most effective way to prevent gum disease. Flossing is not simply drawing a string between two teeth. The flossing must be performed so that the floss is drawn up along the necks of the teeth, cleaning them of plaque from bottom to top. Then the teeth need to be carefully brushed, with an eye towards thoroughly eliminating plaque and debris from each tooth. Rinsing the mouth with peroxide is often recommended.
A professional cleaning is advised for every six months, especially if bleeding of the gums has occurred.
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