Keeping your Gums Healthy

Posted on November 4, 2009 in Dental Articles

PicturePeople are living longer and healthier lives. And, older adults also are more likely to keep their teeth for a lifetime than they were a decade ago. However, studies indicate that older people have the highest rates of periodontal disease and need to do more to maintain good oral health.

Whatever your age, it is important to keep your mouth clean, healthy and feeling good. And it is important to know the state of your periodontal health.

  • Periodontal disease is common affecting 30% of young adults and more than 80% of persons over 65 years of age.
  • Almost one out of four people age 65 and older have lost all their teeth.
  • Receding gum tissue affects the majority of older people
  • Periodontal disease and tooth decay are the leading causes of tooth loss in older adults.

What you may not realize is that oral health is not just important for maintaining a nice-looking smile and being able to eat corn on the cob. Good oral health is essential to quality of life. Consider a few of the reasons:

  • Every tooth in your mouth plays an important role in speaking, chewing and in maintaining proper alignment of other teeth.
  • A major cause of failure in joint replacement is infection, which can travel to the site of the replacement from the mouth in people with periodontal disease.
  • People with dentures or loose and missing teeth often have restricted diets since biting into fresh fruits and vegetables are often not only difficult, but also painful. This likely means they don’t get proper nutrition.
  • Most men and women age 65 and older report that a smile is very important to a person’s appearance. And maybe most importantly, recent resaerch has advanced the idea that periodontal disease is linked to a number of major health concerns such as heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and diabetes. 
PictureGum disease is caused by plaque – a sticky, colorless film of bacteria that is constantly forming on your teeth. These bacteria produce toxins that can irritate the gums and damage teeth. Left untreated, gingivitis may progress to a more severe form of gum disease called periodontitis.While your likelihood of developing periodontal disease increases with age, the good news is that research suggests that these higher rates may be related to risk factors other than age. So, periodontal disease is not an inevitable aspect of aging. Risk factors that may make older people more susceptible include general health status, diminished immune status, medications, depression, worsening memory, diminished salivary flow, functional impairments and change in financial status. 
Preventing Periodontal Disease
Even if you’ve manage to avoid periodontal disease until now, it is especially important to practice a meticulous oral care routine as you age. Receding gum tissue affects a large percentage of older people. This condition exposes the roots of teeth and makes them more vulnerable to decay and periodontal infection.
To keep your teeth for a lifetime, you must remove plaque from your teeth and gums everyday with proper brushing and flossing. Regular dental visits are also important. daily cleaning willhelp keep calculus formation to a minimum, but won’t completely prevent it. A professional cleaning at least twice a year is necessary to remove calculus from places your toothbrush and floss may have missed.  
Treating Periodontal Disease
In the earlier stages of periodontal disease, most of the treatment involves scaling and root planning, which means removing plaque and calculus in the pockets around the tooth and smoothing the root surfaces. In most cases of early periodontal disease, scaling and root planning and proper daily home care are all that are required for a satisfactory result. More advanced cases may require surgical treatment.
Once you’ve been treated for periodontal disease, periodontal maintenance procedures or supportive periodontal therapy enables you to gain control of the disease and increase your chances of keeping your natural teeth.