Periodontal health is poorly understood by many people in the US, which may be a factor in the prevalence of periodontal disease. About four in five adults in this country suffer from at least a mild case of gingivitis, if not full-blown periodontitis. While some are genetically predisposed to develop gum disease, in many cases these infections are preventable. To help you care for your gums and preserve your teeth, we’d like to address some common misconceptions about periodontal disease.
Myth: Periodontal disease isn’t a big problem.
Fact: Periodontal disease is an infection which can impact both your teeth and your overall health.
Left unchecked, periodontal disease will deteriorate all the structures of your mouth, including your teeth, gums, and bone. This infection can also spread to other areas of your body and has been linked to serious chronic health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and dementia. While the systemic effects of gum disease are not yet fully documented, it is clear that it is detrimental to overall health and may even contribute to the development of life-threatening conditions.
Myth: Most teeth are lost due to cavities.
Fact: Periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss.
While it is possible for decay to begin in the tooth itself, it is much more common for decay to start in the periodontal pockets between your gums and your teeth. These pockets can harbor deposits of bacteria which will continue to attack your gums, bone, and tooth roots until the teeth are lost.
Myth: Everyone loses their teeth as they age.
Fact: Tooth loss is preventable even in old age.
Most of the tooth loss usually attributed to old age is actually due to the greater likelihood of developing periodontal disease as you grow older. Dental care can suffer in old age, and small deficiencies can accumulate into large problems over time. Tooth loss in age can be delayed or prevented by seeking treatment for gum disease.
Myth: Proper brushing and flossing will treat existing gum disease.
Fact: An established periodontal infection needs professional cleaning and treatment to be eradicated.
All people naturally accumulate plaque in their mouths over time. Regular brushing and flossing will remove plaque before it can produce any detrimental effects. But plaque which is not removed hardens into tartar, which can’t be cleared away with a toothbrush or floss and which continues to contribute to decay in that area. Periodontal disease involves the accumulation of plaque and tartar below the gumline, where it can’t be brushed away. Removing it requires professional periodontal cleaning, sometimes paired with antibiotic treatments which would not be sufficient on their own.
With proper care and treatment, you can avoid tooth loss and the other health problems that come from periodontal disease. The first step is identifying the problem. Call the Dental Partners of Boston to schedule your appointment, or request one online.