Health Topics

Healthy Living

June 2010
Prevent Gum Disease
Dr.Rashmi Acharya
An infection of the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth is known as gum (or periodontal) disease. Untreated gum disease can become very serious, causing teeth to become loose or fall out.

Gum disease can occur as a mild gum disease affecting only the gums, called gingivitis, or could become periodontitis - spreading below the gums to damage the tissues and bone that support the teeth.

Gum disease is usually caused by a build-up of plaque - an invisible sticky layer of germs that forms naturally on the teeth and gums. Plaque, as those toothpaste commercials tell us eloquently, contains bacteria that produce toxins that irritate and damage the gums.

8 Risks for Gum Disease
  1. Smoking not only increases the risk of development of periodontitis, it also lowers the chances of success of some treatments.
  2. Hormonal changes in girls/women make gums more sensitive, making it easier for gingivitis to develop.
  3. Diabetes makes people at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal disease.
  4. Stress, researches have shown, can make it more difficult for our bodies to fight infection, including periodontal disease.
  5. Medications such as antidepressants and some heart medicines, can affect oral health because they lessen the flow of saliva. Saliva is our body’s natural protective system for teeth and gums, helping keep the pH inside the mouth neutral.
  6. Illnesses, especially the major ones like cancer or AIDS and their treatments, can also affect the health of gums.
  7. Genetic susceptibility, meaning that it travels in your family line, makes gum disease inheritable and some people more prone to severe periodontal disease than others.
  8. Not cleaning the teeth well, though we are mostly defensive about our brushing and flossing, can also make you susceptible to gum disease.
5 Steps to Prevent Gum Disease
  1. Brush your teeth twice a day (with a fluoride toothpaste)
  2. Floss every day
  3. Visit the dentist routinely for a check-up and professional cleaning
  4. Eat a well balanced diet - avoid snacks and junk foods
  5. Don't use tobacco products.

The main goal of the treatment is to control the infection. The number and types of treatment will vary, depending on the extent of the gum disease.
  • Antibiotics will reduce the inflammation get the situation under control
  • Scaling & Root planning cleans between the gums and the teeth down to the root, to free your gums of plaque and tartar. A standard scraping tool or an ultrasonic one may be used.
  • Gingival Flap Surgery: The gums are separated from the teeth and folded back temporarily, to allow the dentist to reach the root of the tooth and the bone. After the inflamed tissue is removed from between the teeth and holes in the bone, the gums are stitched back on.
Do You Have Gum Disease?
Check for these symptoms, which we normally won’t notice until the disease has advanced:
  1. Bad breath that won't go away
  2. Red or swollen gums
  3. Tender or bleeding gums
  4. Painful chewing
  5. Loose teeth
  6. Sensitive teeth

Dr. Rashmi Acharya is Consultant Dentist at Apollo Hospitals, Bhuvaneshwar

  • The information on this site does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.
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