Kimberly P. Yow

Kimberly P. Yow

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Practice good oral hygiene to protect yourself against periodontitis

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Periodontitis, or gum disease, can turn up in an individual as a result of infections and inflammation of the gums. 

This can cause a lot of discomfort and, at its worst, can cause teeth to loosen and even fall out.

Periodontitis is most common in older adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that 47.2% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease. This number increases to 70.1% in adults over the age of 65.

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Luckily, there are plenty of preventative measures you can take to protect yourself against gum disease. 

Here’s a look at the different stages and symptoms to know.

There are four general stages of gum disease. The first is gingivitis. 

During this stage, you’ll start to see some symptoms, but they will be less severe than the more advanced stages of the disease. For example, you may notice that your gums are red and puffy but there typically hasn’t been any bone loss yet. You also could experience bleeding gums in this beginning stage.

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Gingivitis can then become mild periodontitis if it is not treated. At this point, gums will start to pull away from the teeth and some bone will be lost. Plaque, tartar and bacteria will start to build up during this stage.

The next stage is moderate periodontitis, which is essentially a more advanced version of mild periodontitis. 

More bone loss will happen during this stage and bacteria will continue to develop.

The last stage is severe periodontitis. At this point, gums will begin to bleed if not already and pus could be apparent. 

Chronic bad breath is likely to occur and teeth could fall out at this point.

The good news is that in most cases periodontitis can be cured. How it is cured depends on how severe the disease is. In earlier stages, good oral hygiene and seeing a dentist for regular appointments can help cure the disease. 

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In later stages, a deeper cleaning is going to be needed, medication may need to be taken and sometimes surgery will be necessary.

Common symptoms of periodontitis are bad breath, a bad taste in the mouth that won’t go away, red and/or puffy gums, bleeding from the gums, pain when chewing, loose teeth, tooth sensitivity and gums pulling away from the teeth.

If you notice a change to the way your dentures fit or a change to the way your teeth fit together when you bite or smile, these are other signs that periodontitis could be present. 

The best way to prevent periodontitis is to practice good oral hygiene. This includes brushing and flossing your teeth every day as well as visiting the dentist for a checkup and cleaning on a regular basis. It is good to get in the routine of scheduling a dentist appointment once every six months, or at least once a year, to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy.

There are several risk factors that could increase a person’s risk of developing periodontitis. 

These risks include smoking, diabetes, poor oral hygiene, high stress, crooked teeth, underlying immunodeficiencies, taking medications that lead to dry mouth, fillings that are no longer properly functioning, and female hormone changes, either due to pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives, according to the CDC.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.

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