What's Going On Around Your Teeth
"What do you KNOW about your PERIO?" The Middlesex-London Health Unit and the London and District Dental Society hope the local community considers that question over the next 30 days and beyond. Perio refers to periodontal health and the periodontal tissues: the gums, the jawbone and the fibers that connect the teeth to the bone. The agencies launched their Top Gums campaign today, coinciding with the kick off of Oral Health Month, to raise awareness of an often-overlooked component of oral health.
"Many people fail to recognize the importance of their periodontal tissues. Quite often they miss the fact that significant problems can result, not just because of large cavities in the teeth, but also because of gum disease," says Dr Neil Farrell, Dental Director at the Middlesex-London Health Unit. "Sometimes, there isn’t enough gum tissue or bone left to hold the teeth in and the teeth are lost because of gum problems that could have been prevented or treated earlier."
Periodontal disease is caused by a bacterial film, which forms along and under the gum line. If not removed regularly, this film produces irritants that can cause the gums to puff and bleed. It can also dissolve the fibers that hold the roots of the teeth to the bone and cause the bone to dissolve. The Top Gums campaign aims to raise awareness about periodontal disease and to help individuals recognize that they can prevent periodontal disease.
Because there may be few signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, those at risk may be unaware of their condition. A few indicators of perio problems are bleeding gums, gums that have receded, and tooth "sensitivity" when the roots are exposed.
To maintain and protect periodontal tissues and strive for Top Gums, the Health Unit and Dental Society recommend:
* cleaning the teeth thoroughly and regularly, especially along the gum line, at least twice per day for 2 minutes each time;
* avoiding brushing or flossing too hard, doing so can damage the teeth and gums;
* having regular dental cleanings, as only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove the bacterial film if it hardens into tartar;
* not smoking.