Periodontal disease or gum disease is mainly caused by the bacteria in dental plaque. This plaque is a yellowish-white, soft and sticky film that adheres to the surface of the teeth and gums and is composed of food debris and bacteria. Once the bacteria in this film begins to organize and grow, it forms a community in which they flourish and as a result cause inflammation and damage to the gums and supporting structures of the tooth and bone.
Becoming a victim of this disease can be avoided by knowing some of the daily habits that can prevent it:
Tooth brushing: 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 no longer will be able to remove it, only your dentist and their instruments can. Tartar acts as an anchor where the plaque can easily attach, becoming larger and more damaging with time. It is also important to remember to clean your tongue, as it is also covered by bacteria that must be removed.
Flossing: Using dental floss is the only way to remove food debris and plaque that forms between the teeth and in areas where the toothbrush cannot reach, it should be used at least once a day.
Mouthwash: The use of a rinse should not be used as replacement to brushing or flossing, it is just a co-adjunct method that reaches surfaces that the other two methods cannot, like the buccal corridor and the inside of the cheeks.
Other factors that may help prevent the disease:
Periodic dental care: When you visit your dentist every 6 months for an evaluation of teeth and gums it allows the dentist to catch problems before they become more serious and difficult to treat.
Patient education: Understanding factors related to periodontal disease are key to maintaining oral health. The main risk factors for this disease include:
Age: As patients become adults the risk for gum disease increases proportionally.
Smoking: Smokers have a risk of up to 4 times higher of developing periodontal disease than people with the same conditions who are nonsmokers.
Diabetes: Several studies have shown that diabetic patients especially those with poor control of the disease 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 too, and it is extremely important to have a complete gum evaluation to rule out its presence in their case as well.
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!