Saturday, August 6, 2011


Understanding Gum Disease
With increased awareness of periodontal disease and a
greater selection of dental hygiene products available, why
is gum disease the most commonly diagnosed health problem
among today’s American adult population, affecting
approximately 40 million people? Since this disease of the
mouth has a destructive nature, it is important that you follow
the guidelines described in this book to help begin the
healing process. People have been losing their teeth as part
of the aging process; however, with routine cleanings and
good home care, we can all keep our natural teeth. If you
exercise preventive care, it is not unreasonable to expect
your teeth and gums to last a lifetime.
To understand gum disease in simple terms, think of your
teeth rooted in bone the way a plant is rooted in soil. If the
soil supporting the plant begins to erode, the plant will loosen and bend. The same thing can happen with your
teeth. If the bone that supports the teeth in their sockets
begins to erode, the teeth will loosen and fall out.
The first stage of periodontal disease is called gingivitis:
gingiv (gum tissue) and itis (inflammation). This initial stage
is characterized by loose, swollen, tender, and/or bleeding
gums. The loose, flabby gum tissue allows pockets to form
between the teeth and the gum tissue—pockets in which
food debris can collect and harmful bacteria can multiply.
The bacteria may then attack the neighboring jawbone, causing
it to erode. When bone loss has occurred, the disease has
progressed to the second stage. This is known as periodontitis,
and is classified as early, moderate, or advanced,
depending on the degree of bone destruction.
What causes gingivitis? Gingivitis is a bacterial infection
of the gum tissue. Bacteria live in plaque, a sticky film that
accumulates on your teeth every day. Plaque needs to be
removed by proper oral home care. If it is not removed properly,
the toxins in the plaque will cause the gums to get irritated
and infected. Plaque left on the teeth and not disrupted
by brushing and flossing will calcify and turn into calculus
(commonly called “tartar”). Brushing and flossing cannot
remove calculus; it must be removed by a professional.
Calculus found caked on the roots of diseased teeth, in addition
to containing bacterial toxins, is a mechanical irritant to
the soft tissue.

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