Oral Health & Gum Disease
Oral health and gum disease is an important dental topic. Periodontal (gum) disease is common among adults in the United States. Many adults presently display some form of the disease, which varies from uncomplicated inflammation of the gums to acute infection that causes significant damage to the soft tissue and bone that undergird the teeth. In the most severe cases, loss of teeth may occur, but gum disease is mostly preventable through the implementation of proper oral health practices starting from an early age. Ultimately, if periodontal disease does occur in teenage or adult life, the prognosis and outcome largely depend on how well a person cares for their gums and teeth daily from the time of diagnosis forward. Our dental topics page provides other information on oral hygiene during pediatric dentistry.
Tell me about Oral Health and Gum Disease?
Gum (periodontal) diseases are usually the result of inflammation and infections of the gums and bone that bear and encompass the teeth. Gingivitis is the early stage of periodontal disease, which causes gums to become red, swollen, and sometimes, even bleed. If gum disease progresses to a more serious form call periodontitis, the gums may detach from the tooth, bone loss can occur, and teeth may loosen or even fall out. The majority of gum disease is seen in adults, but early gum disease can occur in teens as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 47.2% of adults 30 years and older have some form of gum disease, and this number increases with age. Overall, periodontal disease is one of the two most substantial threats to oral health, along with tooth decay (cavities).
Oral Health For Kids and Preventing Gum Disease
Creating a disease free and healthy smile that lasts a lifetime begins during childhood. Teaching kids proper oral hygiene from the start is extremely important, not only to prevent cavities and promote cleanliness during childhood, but to prevent dental problems later in life, such as periodontal disease. Although kids rarely develop gum disease in the serious form of periodontitis, teenagers can develop gingivitis, the more preliminary form. Here are a few tips on encouraging kids to implement optimum oral health practices:
Teach children how to brush their teeth well and properly. Kids should brush their teeth at least twice a day, but after every meal is best. It is recommended for children to floss at night before bed as well. Check with the dentist for age appropriate dental hygiene practices for your child.
- Prioritize visiting the dentist routinely, as recommended for regular check-ups and cleanings for kids.
- Promote nutritious “tooth-healthy” meals and try to keep kids from snacking continually between meals.
- Consider using fluoride to protect your child’s teeth. Talk to the dentist about fluoride toothpaste recommendations and fluoride varnish treatments. Most tap water also contains fluoride.
- Discuss dental sealants with the dentist. Sealants shield teeth from bacteria that cause tooth decay and other dental problems.
Oral Health and Gum Disease…What Causes Gum Disease?
Improper dental care and oral hygiene neglect leads to gum disease. Bacteria left in the mouth causes infection in the gums that encompass the tooth, which leads to inflammation around the tooth and periodontal disease. As bacteria accumulate over the surface of the teeth, they form plaque unless removed. This plaque, in time, hardens into a tartar that becomes even more difficult to remove. Tarter moves to the gum line, causing difficulty when trying to clean the teeth. At this point, professional removal of the tartar is necessary to keep gum disease from progressing.
Signs And Symptoms of Gum Disease
Usually symptoms of gum disease do not appear until a person is in his or her 30s or 40s, but as mentioned, teenagers can develop gingivitis. Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease for teens or adults include:
- Persistent foul breath or taste.
- Swollen or red gums.
- Loose permanent teeth.
- Tooth sensitivity.
- Painful chewing.
- Teeth appearing longer than normal or receding gums.
- Sensitive or bleeding gums.
If a child is experiencing any of these symptoms, a serious dental problem may be in the process of progressing. It is recommended to make an appointment with the dentist immediately if a child complains of any of these symptoms.
Treatment and Prevention For Gum Disease
The top priority of treatment is to restrain the infection. Treatment options for periodontal disease vary depending on the type and extent of the disease. Early gum disease, gingivitis, can be treated and reversed with proper oral care and regular professional teeth cleanings. More severe gum disease, periodontitis, may also be successfully cured, but treatment is usually more involved. More extensive treatment may require deep cleaning of the root surfaces of the tooth under the gums, medications, and in extreme cases, restorative surgery.
Children Dental Topics
- Permanent Tooth Eruption in Children
- Dental Cavities and How to Prevent Cavities
- Dental Fillings, Stainless-steel Crowns-Treatment for Tooth Decay
- Oral Health and Gum Disease
- Motivating Your Child to Brush Their Teeth – Motivational Charts
- When Should I Change My Toothbrush?
- Choosing the Best Toothpaste for Children
- Eating Healthy to Promote Strong Teeth in Children
- Dental Sealants Prevent Cavities in Children
- Dental Fluoride Treatments in Children
- Mouth Guards Prevent Dental Injury in Sports