Patient Education

Periodontal Disease: Understanding the Causes

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is widespread in the US. The Centers for Disease Control have recently reported that 50% of all adults over the age of 30 have one of the two types of gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis). Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss for adults in the US. Santa Fe Dental (in Edmond, OK) offers gum disease treatment to help fight the problem in our community. However, treating gum disease starts with prevention, and that’s why we make an effort to educate our patients so that they can take the proper steps to keep gum disease under control in order to protect themselves and their families. In the next four posts, we’ll explore: The causes of gum disease (and what you can do at home to prevent it) The differences and the relationship between the two types of gum disease The risk factors for gum disease An overview of what to expect from gum disease treatment in our practice Plaque’s Role In Gum Disease Gum disease is caused by plaque. Plaque isn’t just a fuzzy substance on your teeth. Plaque is alive, and is a part of the bacterial ecosystem living in your mouth. The plaque itself is technically referred to as a biofilm: the bacteria are so crowded on the surface of your teeth that they stick together, providing an ideal environment for many kinds of bacteria to thrive. They can even “talk” to each other through a biochemical process called quorum sensing, which helps to regulate the bacterial population and keep the environment (your mouth) safe for bacteria. It’s a little freaky, but we think it’s also pretty cool! The bacteria live on whatever you’re eating, but their absolute favorite thing to eat is sugar, which comes from foods with a lot of carbohydrates such as candy, bread, or any food that’s heavily processed, or contains a lot of refined sugar. The more you eat, they eat, and the more they reproduce and generate waste. In this case, the waste is a mix of acidic fluids and other chemicals. These acids are what cause tooth decay and cavities. What Can I Do To Prevent Plaque Build-Up? Plaque is a natural part of having a mouth, and you can never fully eliminate it. However, you can reduce its impact by working hard to keep it in check. If you don’t, the plaque will turn into tartar, which is also called calculus. Calculus class is hard, but dental calculus is harder than bone, and it gets that way by absorbing minerals in your saliva. Tartar/Calculus is the perfect foundation for plaque to build up on and cause worse problems. It only takes 24 hours for plaque to become calculus! Being vigilant and disciplined about your oral health routine is the key to avoiding gum disease. This is especially true if you’ve just passed 30 years of age. Now is the time to build the good oral health habits that will last a lifetime. Think of your mouth as a lawn: without proper maintenance, the grass will get overgrown. It’s the same way with the oral bacteria that makes up plaque. You’ve got to physically cut it down to keep everything in order. That means regular oral health habits. Commit to it, and stick to at least a twice-a-day routine: Brushing Flossing (it will get easier) Rinsing with Mouthwash Of course, you should also see your dentist at least twice a year. Make the appointments at a convenient time and keep them! With enough neglect, the plaque will build-up to such a degree that it will start to make its way under the gum line. When this happens, gum disease is all but a certainty. CALL TO ACTION Gum Disease Is Treatable, But You Have To Take Action Now! Gum disease is everywhere, but it is also preventable and treatable. Making an appointment with your dentist is the first step. Contact My Santa Fe Dental now! Make an appointment with us online, or call our office at 405-757-2030.

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