Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is mainly caused by bacteria in dental plaque. This plaque is a yellowish-white soft, sticky film that adheres to the surface of the teeth and gums. It is composed of food debris and bacteria. Once the bacteria in this film begins to organize and grow, it forms a community in which bacteria flourishes and causes inflammation and damage to the gums and supporting structures of the tooth and bone.
Becoming a victim to this disease can be avoided by practicing daily habits to prevent it:
Brushing your teeth after every meal and removing food debris throughout the day will not allow the plaque to grow and harden into tartar. Once the plaque becomes tartar, brushing will no longer be enough to remove it. It can only be removed by dental instruments used by a dentist. Tartar acts like an anchor to which the plaque can easily attach, becoming larger and more damaging over time. It is important to remember to also clean your tongue, for it is also covered by bacteria that should be removed.
Using dental floss is the only way to remove food debris and plaque that forms between teeth and in areas where a toothbrush cannot reach. Floss should be used at least once a day.
The use of a rinse should not be used as replacement to brushing and flossing. It is just a complementary method that reaches surfaces such as the buccal corridor and the inside of the cheeks that the other two methods cannot reach.
Other factors that may help prevent the disease:
Periodic dental care
Visiting your dentist every 6 months for a teeth and gums evaluation allows the dentist to catch problems before they become more serious and difficult to treat.
Understanding factors related to periodontal disease are key to maintaining oral health. The main risk factors for this disease include:
Age: As patients grow older, the risk for gum disease increases proportionally.
Smoking: Smokers have 4 times the risk of developing periodontal disease than nonsmokers do.
Diabetes: Several studies have shown that diabetic patients, especially those with poor control of their condition, are more likely to have gum disease than nondiabetic patients.
Genetics: Patients with parents or siblings who have suffered or are suffering from gum disease have a higher risk of suffering from it as well. It is extremely important for these patients to have a complete gum evaluation to rule out the presence of this disease.
Knowing and carrying out the daily habits that prevent periodontal disease and remembering to visit your dentist every 6 months are key for keeping your teeth and gums healthy!