Tag Archives: gingivitis

Senior Oral Health Care

Senior Oral Health Care

Proper oral care can keep you smiling well into retirement. Brushing at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristle brush are important. Flossing helps save your teeth by removing plaque between teeth and below the gum line that your toothbrush can’t reach.

  • What problems should I watch for?
  • Why should I be concerned about gum disease?
  • What if it is too difficult to brush?
  • What are the signs of oral cancer?


What problems should I watch for?

Gingivitis is caused by the bacteria found in plaque that attacks the gums. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums and possible bleeding when you brush. If you have any of these symptoms, see Dr. Griffin at once. Gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease if problems persist.

Why should I be concerned about gum disease?

Three out of four adults over age 35 are affected by some sort of gum (periodontal)disease. In gum disease, the infection may become severe. Your gums begin to recede, pulling back from the teeth. In the worst cases, bacteria form pockets between the teeth and gums, weakening the bone. This can lead to tooth loss if untreated, especially in patients with osteoporosis. If regular oral care is too difficult, Dr. Griffin can provide alternatives to aid in flossing and prescribe medication to keep the infection from getting worse.

What if it is too difficult to brush?

If you have arthritis, you may find it difficult to brush and floss. Ask us for ways to overcome this problem. Certain dental products are designed to make dental care less painful for arthritis sufferers. Try using a battery operated toothbrush with a large handle. These toothbrushes can help by doing some of the work for you.

What are the signs of oral cancer?

Oral cancer most often occurs in people over 40 years of age. See Dr. Griffin immediately if you notice any red or white patches on your gums or tongue, sores that fail to heal within two weeks, or an unusual hard spot on the side of your tongue. Oral cancer is often difficult to detect in its early stages, when it can be cured easily. Dr. Griffin will perform a head and neck exam to screen for signs of cancer.

Three out of four adults over age 35 are affected by some sort of gum (periodontal) disease.

If you have any questions about senior dental care or any other dental issues, please feel free to give us a call here in Carrollton, TX at 972-242-2155.  Or, simply use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form on this page.

(Information gathered from the Academy of General Dentistry)

Periodontal Disease

Paul A. Griffin, DDS, PAPeriodontal Disease

If your hands bled when you washed them, would you be concerned? Of course you would! But, yet, many people think it’s normal if their gums bleed when they brush or floss. Almost all of the time, the cause of this bleeding is periodontal disease. Many U.S. adults currently have some form of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is the infection of the structures around the teeth. These include the gums, the root, the periodontal ligament and the bone. It ranges from simple inflammation of the gingiva (gums), called gingivitis, to serious damage to the tissue and bone supporting the teeth, which is called periodontitis.

This is part 1 of a 3 part blog series on Periodontal Disease. Look for Part 2, Periodontal Disease Symptoms and Treatments, and Part 3, Periodontal Disease and Systemic Health, in the coming weeks.

Types of Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. Gingivitis starts when plaque, which harbors a ton of bacteria, builds up between the gums and teeth. In an effort to eliminate the bacteria, the cells of your immune system release substances that cause inflammation. The gums then become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular professional cleanings.

Periodontitis

When gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis (which means “inflammation around the tooth”). In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces, called pockets, which become infected. Once again, the body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows. Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose resulting in tooth loss.

Periodontal Disease Risk Factors

The main cause of periodontal (gum) disease is plaque, but other factors affect the health of your gums. Below are some factors which are linked to periodontal disease.

Age

Studies indicate that older people have the highest rates of periodontal disease. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that over 70% of Americans 65 and older have periodontitis.

Smoking/Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is linked with many serious illnesses such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease, as well as numerous other health problems. Tobacco users also are at increased risk for periodontal disease. Studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.

Genetics

Research has indicated that some people may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people with a genetic test before they even show signs of the disease and getting them into early intervention treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.

Stress

Stress is linked to many serious conditions such as hypertension, cancer, and numerous other health problems. Stress also is a risk factor for periodontal disease. Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases.

Medications

Some drugs, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health. Just as you notify your pharmacist and other health care providers of all medicines you are taking and any changes in your overall health, you should also inform your dental care provider.

Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth

Clenching or grinding your teeth can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.

Other Systemic Diseases

Other systemic diseases that interfere with the body’s inflammatory system may worsen the condition of the gums. These include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Poor Nutrition and Obesity

A diet low in important nutrients can compromise the body’s immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection. Because periodontal disease begins as an infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums. In addition, research has shown that obesity may increase the risk of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is common but largely preventable. Good dental care at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring. Brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily and scheduling regular dental visits, with Dr. Griffin, can greatly reduce your chance of developing periodontitis.

If you would like more information on periodontal disease or if you would like to schedule your next appointment please call us at 972-242-2155. Or, you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page.