"Unexpectedly, the 'Chronic Killer' of Teeth—It's Periodontal Disease!"
Below, I will introduce to you the "silent killer" of teeth—surprisingly, it's none other than this! This will take approximately two to three minutes of your time to read. Thank you for your attention.
Having healthy teeth is like having a perfect business card, but many adults suffer from early tooth loss due to a chronic killer known as periodontal disease. If you think you're healthy because you don't have cavities, think again—you may not be familiar with periodontal disease.
What is periodontal disease?
In simple terms, periodontal disease refers to the disease affecting the tissues surrounding the teeth. Imagine teeth as trees; cavities are like holes in the trunk, while periodontal disease represents the soil around the roots that undergoes changes and erosion. When the support from the soil is lost, the trees (teeth) inevitably fall.
The surrounding tissues of teeth mainly consist of the gums and alveolar bone. Let's take a look at the images above. On the far left is a healthy periodontal tissue. We can see the alveolar bone enveloping the tooth root, with the gums measuring around 1-3 millimeters in height. The alveolar bone and teeth are tightly connected, providing stability to the teeth when subjected to forces during chewing.
In a healthy state, the gums appear slightly pink, and when proper oral hygiene is maintained, bacteria accumulation leading to plaque formation can be prevented. However, if oral hygiene is inadequate, the gums may become inflamed, appearing red, swollen, and prone to bleeding (bleeding during brushing is often a sign of gum inflammation). At this stage, known as gingivitis, there is no actual loss of supporting alveolar bone, and proper oral care or professional dental cleaning can restore the gums to a healthy state without substantial tissue damage.
When plaque remains on the teeth for an extended period, it calcifies and forms hard deposits called tartar or dental calculus. Tartar continuously irritates the gums, leading to gum recession. Over time, this can result in loose teeth. It's important to note that tartar can only be removed through professional dental cleaning and cannot be eliminated by regular brushing.
The image below shows a patient with moderate periodontal disease. We can observe swollen gums without significant recession. Many patients at this stage may not experience noticeable pain or discomfort, dismissing gum bleeding as a minor issue.
This looks perfectly normal, right? However, as the destruction and loss of alveolar bone progress, the gum level continues to decrease, giving the impression of "gum recession" and "enlarged gaps" between teeth. In severe cases, the teeth lose their support, become loose, and in extreme situations, they may even fall out. Periodontal pockets may also form, occasionally accompanied by pus discharge. At this stage, periodontal disease causes significant discomfort.
Characteristics of periodontal disease
1、Highly prevalent: Survey data from the United States shows that nearly one in ten individuals aged 35-60 suffers from moderate to severe periodontal disease. A Chinese epidemiological study on oral health indicates that 97% of the population has unhealthy periodontal conditions.
2、Often asymptomatic: Periodontal disease is frequently overlooked since it usually lacks noticeable pain. By the time patients seek medical attention, it may have already progressed to severe stages, and some teeth may be beyond salvage.
3、Association with systemic diseases: There is evidence linking poorly controlled diabetes with periodontal disease. Conversely, inadequate control of periodontal disease can affect blood sugar control in diabetic individuals.
Prevention of periodontal disease
Periodontal diseases have a genetic component, with approximately 10-15% of individuals being predisposed to severe forms. This awareness is crucial because this subgroup requires focused preventive measures. So, who is
at risk of periodontal disease?
If parents experience tooth looseness starting in midlife, it indicates a familial history of periodontal disease, necessitating attention. Not only should parents seek medical consultation, but individuals themselves should also undergo dental examinations.
2、Smoking: Smoking significantly increases the chances of developing and experiencing more severe periodontal disease.
3、Diabetes: Diabetes and periodontal disease are interconnected, and individuals with diabetes need to pay special attention to preventing periodontal disease.
4、Regular dental cleanings accompanied by frequent gum bleeding: People who undergo dental cleanings once or twice a year but still experience frequent gum bleeding are often at high risk of periodontal disease.
How to prevent periodontal disease
1、Practice good self-care by brushing your teeth twice a day and using dental floss. Avoid being lazy about oral hygiene.
2、 Regular dental check-ups and cleanings (regular dental cleanings are essential for everyone to prevent periodontal disease).