Periodontal disease is another name for gum disease. It refers to infection in the bone and tissue that hold the teeth in your mouth. Over time, advanced periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss, gum recession, and even damage to the jaw bone. Gum disease is caused by dental plaque at or below the gum line. Individuals who maintain good daily oral hygiene practices like flossing and brushing can avoid most periodontal complications.
Periodontal maintenance refers to treatments and strategies to help preserve the health of the bone and gum tissue around the teeth of an individual who has had a previous history of gum disease.
Periodontal Maintenance Is Essential for Healthy Teeth and Gums
After the age of 35, adults are more likely to lose to gum disease, rather than from cavities. Up to 80% of adults are affected by some kind of gum disease, and three out of four will lose teeth because of this. Daily brushing and flossing can help prevent gum disease.
All cases of gum disease start with plaque. This film sticks to your teeth and gum line, and is constantly being produced. Eating and drinking both contribute to plaque, and there is no known way to halt production. Daily brushing removes the new plaque that has built up, helping to avoid more serious accumulation.
Periodontal diseases occur mostly because of the bacteria in dental plaque. When plaque is not removed properly, it eventually forms tartar (otherwise known as calculus). Tartar is the mineralized version of plaque. It is extremely hard and is difficult to remove with home teeth cleaning methods. In fact, it can usually only be removed by the dentist or dental hygienist.
Plaque isn’t the only cause of periodontal diseases, and any of the following can also contribute to their development:
- Cigarette smoking and drug use.
- Damaging the teeth through clenching or grinding.
- Some medications.
- Poor nutrition and food choices.
Early stages of periodontal disease are easy to identify. Bacteria within plaque, or toxins from other sources will irritate gums, causing swelling and redness, eventually leading to bleeding. Prolonged irritation causes pockets to form between teeth and gums, allowing bacteria to spread deeper, and damage gum tissue. Left untreated, tooth loss often occurs. In severe cases patients may also experience abscesses, bone infections, and even blood poisoning.
Don’t Let Gum Disease Get the Best of You
Daily brushing is your primary defense against gum disease. Flossing, and mouthwash will also help to remove more plaque and leftover food particles. However, brushing at home is never enough.
For your best chance to prevent gum disease, or to prevent worsening conditions when it has already occurred, regular periodontal maintenance with your dentist is recommended.