Occasionally when people hear that their oral health has the potential to endanger their lives they are skeptical. The reality is that small seemingly innocuous problems of the mouth can cause serious medical conditions some of which are life-limiting or fatal. One of the worst offenders is gum disease, commonly referred to as gingivitis. Essentially the problem is caused by a buildup of plaque and bacteria on and around the teeth. These creatures burrow down deep and can eat away the bones of the jaw. When it gets this bad it begins to manifest in the lost of teeth and pain in the mouth and is called periodontitis.
The clearest sign of gum disease is apparent when brushing and flossing. The tissue will become red and swollen and often bleeds. Even more common is the presence of halitosis, or bad breath. These may seem like fairly obvious signs but scores of people ignore these clear issues and let them continue to get exacerbated. The issue is that while the appearance is clearly visible there is often no discomfort. For most patients in the world the indicator that something is wrong and needs to be taken care of in their mouth is that they are in pain. It is possible to have advanced periodontitis and only have it begin to hurt as the tooth falls out.
A surprising fact is that almost a full third of the population has some level of gum disease. One of the biggest risk factors is smoking cigarettes. The inhalation of smoke increases the growth of bacteria and inhibits the body’s natural defenses against them. Another common demographic is the elderly because they begin to be less diligent and less thorough in the cleaning and maintenance of their mouths.
Prevention is simple. Brushing and flossing after meals and using an antiseptic mouthwash are a good start. Also, it is necessary to have regular checkups with a dentist. These cleanings get deep down toward the roots and eliminate pockets of plaque and bacteria that may be hiding and causing gum disease.
The one positive thing about gum disease is that it is easily reversed. Even if it has progressed to a pretty severe and late state there are treatments available to quickly and effectively bring things back to health. The use of antibiotics may be necessary and in serious cases minor surgery may be indicated to get to the base of the teeth and irrigate the irritation.
Avoiding gingivitis and periodontitis are not just satisfying and aesthetic need and beautifying their mouths. Having good oral health can lead to happier and longer lives. Poor oral health can contribute to heart disease and some cancers. Brushing and flossing help prevent this. It makes sense when you think about it; the more teeth you have the better you can eat and the healthier you will be.