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Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease


Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)

Gingivitis, also generally called gum disease or periodontal disease, describes the events that begin with bacterial growth in your mouth and may end – if not properly treated – with tooth loss due to destruction of the tissue that surrounds your teeth.

What's the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?
Gingivitis (gum inflammation) usually precedes periodontitis (gum disease). However, it is important to know that not all gingivitis progresses to periodontitis.In the early stage of gingivitis, bacteria in plaque build up, causes the gums to become inflamed (red and swollen) and often easily bleed during tooth brushing. Although the gums may be irritated, the teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets. No irreversible bone or other tissue damage has occurred at this stage.

When gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. In a person with periodontitis, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These small spaces between teeth and gums collect debris and can become infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line.

Toxins or poisons – produced by the bacteria in plaque as well as the body's "good" enzymes involved in fighting infections – start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place.
As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. When this happens, teeth are no longer anchored in place, they become loose and tooth loss occurs. Gum disease, in fact, is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.


What Causes Gum Disease


What Causes Gum Disease

Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. However, other factors can contribute to periodontal disease as well. These include:

* Hormonal changes, such as those occurring during pregnancy, puberty, menopause, and monthly menstruation, make gums more sensitive, which makes it easier for gingivitis to develop.
* Illnesses may affect the condition of your gums. This includes diseases such as cancer or HIV that interfere with the immune system. Because diabetes affects the body's ability to use blood sugar, patients with this disease are at higher risk of developing infections, including periodontal disease.
* Medications can affect oral health because some lessen the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on teeth and gums. Some drugs, such as the anticonvulsant medication Dilantin and the anti-angina drug Procardia and Adalat, can cause abnormal growth of gum tissue.
* Bad habits such as smoking make it harder for gum tissue to repair itself.
* Poor oral hygiene habits such as not brushing and flossing on a daily basis, make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
* Family history of dental disease can be a contributing factor for the development of gingivitis.



What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?


What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?

Gum disease may progress painlessly, producing few obvious signs, even in the late stages of the disease. Although the symptoms of periodontal disease often are subtle, the condition is not entirely without warning signs. Certain symptoms may point to some form of the disease. The symptoms of gum disease include:

* Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing
* Red, swollen, or tender gums
* Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
* Receding gums
* Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
* Loose or shifting teeth
* Changes in the way teeth fit together upon biting down, or in the fit of partial dentures.

Even if you don't notice any symptoms, you may still have some degree of gum disease. In some people, gum disease may affect only certain teeth, such as the molars. Only a dentist or a periodontist can recognize and determine the progression of gum disease.


How Can Gum Disease Be Prevented?


How Can Gum Disease Be Prevented?

Gum disease can be reversed in nearly all cases when proper plaque control is practiced. Proper plaque control consists of professional cleanings at least twice a year and daily brushing and flossing.

Brushing eliminates plaque from the surfaces of the teeth that can be reached; flossing removes food particles and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gum line. Other health and lifestyle changes that will decrease the risk, severity, and speed of gum disease development include:

* Stop smoking. Tobacco use is a significant risk factor for development of periodontitis. Smokers are seven times more likely to get gum disease than nonsmokers, and smoking can lower the chances of success of some treatments.
* Reduce stress. Stress may make it difficult for your body's immune system to fight off infection.
* Maintain a well-balanced diet. Proper nutrition helps your immune system fight infection. Eating foods with antioxidant properties, for example, those containing vitamin E or vitamin C (vitamin E-containing foods include vegetable oils, nuts, green  leafy vegetables; vitamin C-containing foods include citrus fruits, broccoli, potatoes) can help your body repair damaged tissue.
* Avoid clenching and grinding your teeth. These actions may put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could increase the rate at which these tissues are destroyed.

Despite following good oral hygiene practices and making other healthy lifestyle choices, the American Academy of Periodontology says that up to 30% of the Americans may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. And those who are genetically predisposed may be up to six times more likely to develop some form of gum disease. If anyone in your family has gum disease, it may mean that you are at greater risk as well. If you are more susceptible to gum disease, your dentist or periodontist may recommend more frequent check-ups, cleanings, and treatments to better manage the condition.


Caring for Your Baby's Teeth



Caring for Your Baby's Teeth

Baby teeth are important because they allow an infant to eat a good diet, allow for proper jaw growth, give the face its form and appearance, assist in the formation of proper speech, and most important, act as "space savers" for adult teeth. Tooth decay in babies can lead to pain, infection, malnutrition, poor weight gain, and premature loss of teeth – which can affect the development of permanent teeth. In addition, oral health problems in an infant's mouth, such as bleeding gums and cavities, increase the chance for these problems in permanent teeth. Good oral health habits – started at an early age at home – increase the chance for a healthy mouth during your child's young life and carry on through adulthood.

When to Start Caring for Your Baby's Teeth

It's actually a good idea to get in the habit of cleaning your baby's gums even before teeth emerge.

To clean your baby's mouth:

1. Lay your baby in your lap with his or her head close to your chest.
2. Gently, but firmly, rub a clean and damp piece of gauze or washcloth along both the upper and lower gums.
3. Clean the gums at least two times a day – after breakfast and after the last feeding of the day. Even better – clean your baby's gums after every feeding.

What Is Teething?

Teething refers to the time when baby teeth (also called deciduous teeth or primary teeth) appear. Generally, teething first occurs between 6 months and 24 months of age. While this process is uneventful in some children; for others, it causes quite a bit of discomfort and irritability.

Check out this tooth chart and learn when to expect your baby's teeth to appear.

What Are Symptoms of Teething in a Baby?


What Are Symptoms of Teething in a Baby?

Symptoms of teething in a baby can include:

* Increased irritability
* Placing objects or fingers in the mouth and biting down on them
* Increased saliva or drooling
* Loss of appetite or becoming choosy about foods
* Tender and swollen gums
* Rash on cheeks or redness in the area of the cheeks near the affected gums
* Restlessness
* Ear pulling, which may be a sign of teething or possibly an ear infection (make an appointment to have your child seen by your doctor or pediatrician)

Teething does not result in fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. If your child experiences these problems, contact your doctor.

What Can I Do to Ease Teething Pain?


What Can I Do to Ease Teething Pain?

* To ease teething pain, massage your child's gums with a clean finger or the back of a small cold spoon
* Allow your child to bite down on a chilled (but never frozen) teething ring. A frozen teething ring can damage the gums.
* Try an over-the-counter teething ointment to numb the gums.Ask your dentist or doctor for some product recommendations.
* Allow your child to suck on a cold, wet cloth Teething biscuits or cookies and frozen bananas are not recommended. These objects promote tooth decay and may cause your child to choke.