The Forgotten Danger of Periodontitis

We’re all too familiar with the frightening statistics that show how diseases and conditions such as heart disease and obesity are major health crises, at least in America. And when we think of the world’s health, diseases such as malaria or any number of disorders arising from nutritional deficiencies may enter the picture, too.

But did you know one of the most prevalent health conditions in the world has to do with oral health and hygiene? Yes, you read that right– severe periodontitis is ranked sixth, overall. In case you didn’t know, periodontitis is an inflammation of the periodontium. Bacteria infect not only the roots of the teeth, but surrounding gums as well, and cause symptoms such as severe bleeding and pus production. Eventually, this leads to a breakdown of the bone and tissue structures supporting the teeth.

A set of fine looking teeth

Practice good oral hygiene in order to prevent diseases like periodontitis.

The research, first published by the International and American Associations for Dental Research in a paper titled “Global Burden of Periodontitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Regression”, reveals that about 743 million people suffer from this disease. In the populations that were surveyed, the incidence of the disease had a gradual increase with age, but between age 30 and 40, there was a sharp increase. By publishing this paper, the researchers hope to bring attention to severe periodontitis and the public health issue it causes.

But what can you do to prevent it? Check out the following tips for maintaining fantastic oral health:

  • Adhere to an actual dental regime: This is probably the most straightforward advice anyone can give, dentist or not. At worst, that means brushing twice daily, and flossing at least once. At best, that means knowing how to brush and floss properly. So, a few pointers. You only need a dollop of toothpaste, not a large amount like you see on advertisements. Brush each tooth in a circular motion, making sure to tilt your toothbrush at an angle that also covers the area where the gum meets the tooth. This is crucial. When it comes to flossing, just take your time, and be gentle. If you’re just starting off, you may need to apply some spatial reasoning to get the positioning just right, but it’s worth it. In addition to staving off diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis, did you know that poor gum health has also been linked to cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease?
  • Use the right antiseptic or oral rinse: Many oral antiseptics, while classic, do contain alcohol, which can actually dry out the mouth. If you have dry mouth, consider an effective alternative.
  • Equipment check: Go for the soft bristled brush and the fluoride toothpaste. If you can, try and spring for an electric toothbrush, too. They’ll do more than your hand can ever hope to achieve. Doubly so if you suffer from a condition like arthritis that impairs your ability to brush effectively.
  • Clean it up: Make sure you rinse your toothbrush after each use, and allow it to air dry in an upright position. Don’t cover it either– this can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria. Also, replace your brush (or head if it’s electric), at the very least once every four months. If you’re prone to brushing your teeth in a manner that frays the bristles, you’re going to have to replace it sooner.
  • Chew gum: Really! Try chewing gum after a meal, which increase saliva production. This bodily fluid helps control bacteria and neutralizes some acids.