Gum Disease & Toothpaste

Eighty percent of adults have some form of gum disease, according to the Colgate World of Care website. Gum disease can range from mild, simple gum inflammation to a more serious form where tissue is damaged and teeth are lost. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website states that gum disease does not present itself until most people are in their 30s or 40s. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, eating a well-balanced diet, and visiting your dentist regularly can all help prevent gum disease.


Gingivitis begins with the bacteria in the mouth. As the University of Maryland Medical Center website points out, the disease usually develops because of "an increase in bacteria quantity and a change in balance of bacterial types from harmless to disease-causing bacteria." It is when the harmful bacteria are allowed to build up on teeth, forming plaque, that gingivitis can set in. If the plaque is not removed, it forms a hard layer on the tooth called tartar. The gums can become tender, red, swollen and bleed easily.


Periodontitis can occur when gingivitis is not treated. Over time, gums pull away from the teeth and plaque can grow below the gum line. This can destroy the tissues and bone that support the teeth. Periodontitis has four common types. Aggressive periodontitis is a severe inflammation with rapid bone and tissue loss. Eventually tooth loss occurs, typically within a year's time. Chronic periodontitis also shows in inflammation with tissue and bone loss. The loss usually occurs slowly and is characterized by receding gums. Disease-related periodontitis occurs with systemic diseases such as diabetes, AIDS and heart disease. Necrotizing periodontitis is an acute infection of the gums and its symptoms include spontaneous bleeding, rapid onset of pain and a bad odor.


Toothpastes are advertised as antimicrobial, tartar control, whitening, sensitive, baking soda, abrasive, gels, fluoride or gum care. According to the website, "The average toothpaste is about 75 percent humectants and water, 20 percent abrasive (silica or powdered calcium), and 1-2 percent foaming and flavoring agents, buffers, coloring agents, opacifiers and fluoride." Toothpaste should protect from cavities, softened enamel and plaque. According to the Consumer Search website, dentists are skeptical regarding tartar control and whitening toothpastes. Tartar only accumulates when a buildup of plaque has been left on the teeth for over 24 hours and whitening toothpastes do not do anything for oral health.


The key to any gum disease is prevention. Brushing, flossing and mouth washing, and visiting your dentist will help to avoid gum disease. Most experts agree that toothpaste with fluoride is effective when used often and correctly. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center website, "Fluoride treatment in children has helped to account for the decline in periodontal disease in adults." Fluoride helps to strengthen tooth enamel and fight tooth decay, making them less vulnerable to bacteria.


Gum disease is treated by surgery, bone and tissue grafts, prescription-grade mouthwash, scaling and root planning, or antibiotics. Once the mouth has succumbed to gum disease, toothpaste alone does not treat the problem. Treatment is aimed at stopping and controlling the progression of the disease, and restoring any damage if possible. Home maintenance is important to the success of treatment. The University of Maryland Medical Center website states that "Some dentists have reported a success rate of 85 percent when professional treatment and good home maintenance are combined."

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