An important purpose of dentistry is to help fight dental diseases. These diseases include but are not limited to cavities, gum or periodontal disease and abscesses of the oral cavity. Dentistry also has a hand in helping fight other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. The U.S. Surgeon General recognizes oral health as an integral part of a person’s total health with the dentist being the primary oral health care provider.
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that covers teeth in most people. If plaque is not removed daily by brushing, flossing, rinsing and regular exams by your dentist it turns into a hard substance called tartar that can irritate and inflame gum tissues. This can cause gum disease. Gum disease is also called periodontal disease and is the number one reason for tooth loss after the age of 25.
The most common symptoms of gum disease can include but are not limited to; bad breath, bleeding when brushing, gums that are red, gums that are swollen or tender, gums that have pulled away from your teeth, teeth that have shifted or become loosened, pus in the area, change in your bite and even pain. Gum disease is a serious bacterial infection that destroys the attachment fibers and supporting bone that holds teeth in. When this happens the pockets around your teeth get deeper and your teeth will become loose.
Recent scientific research suggests a link between gum (periodontal) disease and a variety of universal health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Approximately seven percent of the U.S. population has diabetes and one out of every ten health care dollars in the United States is spent on diabetes care. This is very important because diabetes can greatly increase the risk of periodontal disease. Gum disease may increase insulin resistance as well as altering a patient’s blood sugar level.
Prevention is the key!! True prevention requires a comprehensive approach and should include but not be limited to; patient education, maintaining good dietary habits, good oral hygiene habits (if you are not sure how to do it, ask your dental health team), regular dental examinations with dental xrays, and appropriate restorative treatment when needed.
Make sure you visit your dental health care team and work with them to maintain your optimal dental health.