Preventing Periodontal Disease in Seniors

Did you know that 17% of seniors age 65+ have periodontal (gum) disease? Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria in dental plaque and can be easily prevented with regular oral care and dental cleanings. Without taking preventative measures, gum disease can become severe and lead to tooth decay and loss, as well as other health conditions. To help, we’ve have provided some background information on periodontal disease and how to prevent it.

What is Periodontal Disease?

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research – gum (periodontal) disease is an infection of the gums and surrounding tissues that hold teeth in place. Gum disease develops when plaque – a sticky film of bacteria – is allowed to build up along and under the gum line. In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called “pockets”) that become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Then the bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place.

Another form of gum disease you have heard of is gingivitis which is a mild form that is reversible with good oral hygiene. In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily.

Other symptoms and warning signs of gum disease include:

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Gums that feel tender when touched
  • Gums that pull away from your teeth, making your teeth look longer than normal
  • Chronic Bad breath
  • Loose teeth

How to Prevent Periodontal Disease

  • Brush your teeth twice a day
  • Floss regularly to remove plaque from between teeth
  • Visit the dentist regularly for a check-up and professional cleaning
  • Don’t smoke or use chewing tobacco
  • Eat a well-balanced diet

Bleeding and/or swollen gums should be your warning signs of infection. Not taking action when these symptoms appear can cause the condition to worsen. Take action and see your dentist if you have any of these warning signs and also maintain regular brushing to prevent periodontal (gum) disease.

For more information, check out our blog What You Need to Know about Dental Health for Aging Adults.

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