Teeth can last a lifetime, but they often do not. One of the most common causes of tooth loss is untreated periodontal disease. This is an oral infection that you can prevent with a little help from your dentist and a good at-home oral care routine. Even if you do develop periodontal disease, prompt treatment can reverse it before it poses a risk of tooth loss.
How Periodontal Disease Occurs
After you eat, the bacteria in your mouth feast on the simple sugars. The bacteria form plaque, which sticks to the teeth. If the plaque isn’t removed with brushing and flossing, it quickly hardens into tartar, which irritates the gums. In response to the presence of the bacteria, your immune system releases inflammatory substances. Gradually, these changes damage the gums, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone. Pockets form between the gums and the teeth, and the gums recede. As the bone underneath is destroyed, the teeth loosen and shift, and may eventually be lost.
What Periodontal Disease Looks Like
Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, occurs in stages. The earliest stage is gingivitis, and it’s usually indicated by red, puffy gums, and bleeding while brushing or flossing. You might also notice bad breath. Unless your dentist treats gingivitis, it will develop into periodontitis, which is the advanced form of periodontal disease. Seniors with periodontitis may notice:
- Changes in the way the dentures fit
- Changes in the way the natural teeth fit while biting down
- Foul breath
- Gum recession
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- What Seniors Can Do to Keep Their Smile Healthy
As you grow older, you’re more likely to develop health problems that affect dexterity and coordination, such as rheumatoid arthritis of the hands. Talk to your dentist about how these challenges affect your ability to care for your smile. He or she can recommend some simple modifications to make oral care easier for you. Remember to visit the office at least every six months for a professional dental cleaning and exam. And if you do develop gingivitis, it’s reversible with a deep cleaning technique called scaling and root planing.
Individuals of all ages who are in need of periodontal disease treatment near Columbus, Ohio can rely on the talented team at Oak Creek Dental Care. It’s our mission to help our patients live life well through better oral care. You can get in touch at 614-808-8478.