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People who do not practice good oral hygiene are most at risk for periodontitis. This is especially true for people who do not visit their dentist regularly, as well. Periodontitis is caused by plaque build-up on the teeth, so the best defense is good oral hygiene.
Periodontitis is a genetically inherited disease that causes bone loss around patients teeth; it is acquired at birth and is present for life. In 80% of patients with periodontitis the tooth associated bone loss starts in the late twenties to mid-thirties and then progresses painlessly. Patients with periodontitis are at high risk for getting bone loss around their teeth, but only if their gums are inflamed. The painless nature of the disease presents the greatest risk; an individual cannot tell if their gums are inflamed or if they are experiencing bone loss. Once a diagnosis is made further bone loss can be stopped before it causes tooth loss. If a patient’s parents have gum disease, there is a greater risk that they will experience bone loss around their teeth. Parents with periodontitis should tell their children so the children can alert their dentist. There is no cure for this disease yet. Successful management of periodontitis requires that a patient has a continuous relationship with a dentist, a hygienist, and/or a Periodontist to help them know when their gums are inflamed and to help them eliminate the inflammation.
People who let mild gum disease, called gingivitis, progress without improving their oral hygiene habits or seeking dental care are at most risk of developing periodontitis, the more severe form of gum disease. If you don’t brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day, plaque and tartar can build up and create unhealthy gums.
Periodontitis, if left untreated, can result in bone and tooth loss. Smoking can increase your risk for periodontitis, as can some medications, viral or fungal infections, and chronic medical conditions such as diabetes. Regular dental care can remove plaque and tartar and identify early stages of gum disease, when it is easiest to reverse.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.