Christina: Hi, I’m Christina McCauley for Eye on Dentistry. Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in the United States. In fact, the American Academy of Periodontology estimates that millions of people suffer with gum disease and don’t even know it. In this episode you put the eye on periodontal disease, to find out how much we know about the signs, symptoms, and also, how to prevent the loss of teeth due to gum disease.
Male: Periodontal disease is a disease of the gums, reseeding of the gums.
Female: Something to do with your mouth, your teeth, but I’m not sure exactly what it is.
Female: My interpretation of that would probably be like some type of gum disease.
Christina: The word periodontal literally means around the tooth, periodontal diseases are serious bacterial infections that destroy the attachment fibers and supporting bone that holds your teeth in your mouth, left untreated these diseases can lead to tooth lost.
Susan: Periodontal disease affects about 70% of the population, so everyone is at risk.
Christina: It’s most common in adults over 30, but it is important to begin good oral hygiene early because it often starts during adolescence.
Susan: Periodontal disease usually affects teenagers when they’re going through puberty, or when they have braces on their teeth. That would be the first time I think the dentist should really look for signs of periodontal disease.
Christina: How do you know if you have periodontal disease?
Susan: Some of the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease would be recession or looseness of your teeth, but one of the classic signs is a little bleeding when you brush your teeth. Most people don’t think that’s very important they think, “Well, I’m just brushing too hard,” but actually, it indicates some inflammation and that could be the early sign of periodontal disease.
Christina: According to an article in the September 1997 issue of the Journal of the American Association research suggest that bacteria causing periodontal disease can be passed through saliva, so even kissing someone could put you at risk.
Male: I did not know that kissing somebody could pass on periodontal disease, wow. I have to be more careful of who I kiss now.
Susan: Now that we have your attention, the good news is that periodontal disease can be prevented. To keep your teeth for a lifetime, you must remove the plaque from your teeth and gums everyday with proper brushing and flossing. Regular dental visits are also important, daily cleaning will help keep calculus formation to a minimum, but it won’t completely prevent it. A professional cleaning at least twice a year is necessary to remove calculus from places your toothbrush and floss may have missed.
Susan: Preventing periodontal disease again is really good oral hygiene; brushing and flossing, and seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings at least twice a year, sometimes more. Really, you need to make sure that your dentist is checking you for periodontal disease. You want to make sure that your dentist does a periodontal exam which is a charting and probing where they measure the distance between the edge of the gum and the bone to see if you’ve lost any bone around your teeth.
Male: It’s been 18 months since I’ve been to the dentist.
Male: I brush in the morning and at night, I don’t floss, it’s just a big hassle.
Christina: A healthy mouth may also lower your chances of having heart or respiratory disease stroke, osteoporosis and diabetes.
Susan: We now have some evidence that periodontal disease can affect your heart. Also, if you have diabetes it can make your diabetes worse and vice versa. Your diabetes can make your periodontal disease worse, so there really is a systemic connection to your periodontal disease and your overall health.
Christina: There are some habits that really contribute to the disease.
Susan: The worse habit that you can have is smoke cigarettes actually, because that will cause bone loss and tooth loss. We know that it makes your periodontal disease much worse if you’re a smoker.
Christina: You can forget that fast food or candy bar.
Susan: Having a good healthy diet seems to be very important in terms of your immune system and being able to fight off the disease in terms of your bone density, calcium is important, and just good Vitamin B, C. Those types of thing are very good for healing an your tissue turn over, so your diet actually does turn out to be pretty important.
Christina: Millions of Americans suffer from periodontal disease and up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease, but with good oral hygiene and regular trips to your dentist your teeth are meant to last you a lifetime.
Susan: If you have periodontal disease, you really want to treat it early as possible, because then your treatment is nonsurgical and it’s simple.
Christina: Now if you think you might be at risk talk to your dentist for Eye on Dentistry. I’m Christina McCauley.