Senior’s Guide to Dentistry: Gum Disease

Over the course of our lives, we put our teeth through a wide variety of experiences, from common eating and drinking to injuries from impact, grinding, and more. While dental hygiene can help to maintain our teeth over a long period of time, there are some risks that we can’t entirely mitigate, no matter how hard we try.

The Problem

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection that resides along our gums, which are soft tissues that hold our teeth in the correct place. Over time, this infection can become moderate or severe and cause tooth loss. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, around 17.2% of seniors age 65 and over have periodontal (gum) disease, while 10.58% suffer from moderate or serious periodontal disease. What is periodontal disease? The definition is actually quite technical and specific: “For a person to have periodontal disease, he or she must have at least one periodontal site with 3 millimeters or more of attachment loss and 4 millimeters or more of pocket depth. Moderate periodontal disease is defined as having at least two teeth with interproximal attachment loss of 4 millimeters or more OR at least two teeth with 5 millimeters or more of pocket depth at interproximal sites. Severe periodontal disease is defined as having at least two teeth with interproximal attachment loss of 6 millimeters or more AND at least one tooth with 5 millimeters or more of pocket depth at interproximal sites.” While the definition exists to help dentists diagnose disease, it helps our patients understand exactly how we look at this situation, which can be quite serious to our health.

The Solution

Gum disease isn’t inevitable, and it can be prevented by maintaining a consistent dental cleaning schedule, as well as a focus on high-quality oral hygiene. When we don’t stick to a disciplined routine, plaque tends to accumulate on our teeth, giving bacteria a comfortable place to live, and that bacteria wreaks havoc on our gums and teeth. Once gum disease has started, we can thoroughly clean the area on a consistent basis to solve the problem. However, once gum disease has advanced to the moderate or severe stage, we may have to perform gum grafting or other dental restoration treatments.

If you have any questions about dry mouth or if you would like to schedule a free consultation, please contact our team or make an appointment. Our incredible staff will give you the best dental care possible.

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