Preventing Gum Disease

While some people are more at risk for developing gum disease than others, there are ways to help prevent it such as brushing, flossing, visiting the dentist on a regular basis and not smoking.

What is gum disease, and what are the symptoms of it?

Dr. John Vitale: Well, in layman’s terms, gum disease is basically an inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth. When it gets extensive, we have inflammation of the bone also around the teeth. It is generally caused by an accumulation of plaque and tartar in the mouth.

What foods or behaviors should be avoided to help prevent gum disease?

Dr. John Vitale: Well, more behavior than foods, but I would say one should not smoke at all. Drinking should be moderate and not excessive, and failure to brush your teeth and floss are also contributing factors. They should not be avoided. It should be done rather twice a day or three times a day actually.

That leads to my next question. How does brushing and flossing help prevent gum disease?

Dr. John Vitale: Well, by brushing and flossing, you keep the plaque off your teeth. If the plaque is allowed to stay on your teeth for 36 hours or longer, it turns into what you call tartar, which is a thick hard substance that attaches to your teeth, and more or less strangles your gum tissue. Those are the primary reasons why gum disease starts.

What are some risk factors that contribute to the development of gum disease?

Dr. John Vitale: Well diabetes is one risk factor. Smoking, drinking, poor oral hygiene generally. Those are all contributing factors.

How important are regular dental exams and cleanings in preventing gum disease?

Dr. John Vitale: Well, they are extremely important. If you have any predisposing factors towards gum disease and periodontitis, and what have you, you should really make an effort to come to the dentist every three or four months and get a deep cleaning, and have your teeth examined to make sure that you keep this periodontal condition under control or eliminated completely. Proper maintenance is so important.

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