Even though the average person seemingly takes care of their teeth, there are some unfortunate situations where there are some gum and teeth problems. Periodontal disease is a disorder of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. The most common type is chronic gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) which if untreated leads to periodontitis(inflammation of the membranes around the base of the teeth and erosion of the bone holding the teeth). Periodontal disease continues to be the leading cause for tooth loss for older people. This is the time when bacterial organisms, mouth secretions, and food particles stick to the tooth surfaces as dental plaque. As time goes on, these toxic materials from the plaque work their way downward through the gum. These materials inflame and destroy the critical supporting tissues that nourish and protect the tooth. When this occurs, the gums become swollen and red. The tooth becomes loose and cavities form in the nerve of the root.
The causes for periodontal disease are usually age related. Saliva sometimes become less effective in cleaning the surface of the tooth, and therefore bacteria starts to grow. This is when the gums can become infected. Also, this can be the time when older people have so many health problems to take care of, that they don’t have the time to take care of their teeth as they did when they were younger.
Dryness of the mouth can be caused by certain medications. Medications used for depression and hypertension have been known to cause this type of dryness.
If dental plaque is present and remains for a period of time, periodontal damage is sure to follow in a very short time. It is also believed that gum infection can be caused by malnutrition and certain medical conditions. It is also known that partial plates, tooth caps, or crowns that are not well fitted can cause gum irritation and tooth root damage.
When periodontal disease occurs, one should call the dentist immediately so that hopefully this problem can be corrected. Sometimes there is a decision that has to be made. In severe cases, several teeth can be infected. The question to decide upon is: should the dentist try to save the remaining teeth or extract the teeth, and make false teeth?
Dental restorations have been successful, but the dentist and the patient have to consider the length of time the teeth may be retained and the expense involved in the restoration. Full extractions should not be delayed when the teeth are so bad that it interferes with the nutrition of the patient that is being considered.
Many dental problems can be averted if a person sees a dentist at least once a year or when there is a problem. Dental visits should include x rays when needed, or periodically, cleaning, filling cavities, and general examinations of the teeth. Flossing the teeth daily is extremely important, as it can prevent bacteria and keep gums from bleeding. It is wise to use a soft tooth brush. Toothpaste that contains fluoride is important to use. Also, it is wise to ask the dentist or dental aide for a good mouth wash that is known to keep the bacteria away. The mouthwashes that are generally recommended are the ones that contain fluoride or an antiplaque agent. Remember, your teeth are just as important as other bodily functions.
Source: Medical and Health Guide and The American Medical Asociation, Encyclopedia of Medicine