Tooth and Gum Disease
When I was a kid it seemed like I had a mouth full of cavities. Fortunately, as I grew my oral health got better and I had few to no cavities into adulthood. Perhaps it was because as a child I was not very good at brushing my own teeth. Or maybe all of my cavities were caused by my love to candy. In either case, I am grateful for healthier teeth but my childhood worries about cavities are only shadowed by a much bigger oral health problem. Surprisingly, as serious as cavities may be, they are not as serious as the effect of unremoved plaque on the gums.
Dental plaque can accumulate and calicify. This calicification is commonly known as tartar. These stonyhard deposits can disrupt the seals between the gingivae and the teeth. This can put the gums at risk for infection by bacteria. An early stage of this type of infection can be seen as gingivitis. Gingivitis usually causes the gums to appear red, sore, swollen and likely to bleed.
Fortunately, gingivitis can be remedied if the tartar is removed. However, if the bacteria is not removed and the pockets of infection become inflamed the body's immune system will attack the bacteria as well as the body tissues. This immune system response can cause deep pockets around the teeth and destroy the periodontal ligament causing osteoclasts that dissolve the bone away. This becomes a more serious condition than gingivitis known as periodontal disease or periodontitis. Approximately 95% of people over the age of 35 are affected with periodontitis. Of the 95% about 80 -90% end up with tooth loss.
Tooth loss from periodontitis can be prevented by having regular dental checks each year and using anti inflammatory and antibiotic therapy as needed. Good oral health is important at every age and regular dental checks as well as good oral hygiene and proper nutrition can help you to keep your teeth firmly rooted and healthy for hopefully a lifetime.