Periodontitis is a serious gum disease that damages soft tissue and destroys the bone that supports the teeth. Periodontitis is the primary cause of tooth loss in seniors, often leading to a need for dentures. It also increases a person’s risk for heart attack or stroke. Many seniors may have gingivitis, which is a common and mild form of gum disease that causes irritation, redness and swelling of the gums.

Generations Magazine - Gum Disease In Seniors - Image 01What causes periodontitis?

Poor dental care leads to plaque and tartar buildup at the base of the teeth. Inflammation from this buildup causes an empty pocket to form between the gums and the teeth that fills with plaque and tartar. Soft tissue swelling traps the plaque in the pocket. Continued inflammation damages the tissues and bone surrounding the tooth. The plaque contains bacteria; hence, infection is likely. Infection only increases the rate of bone destruction.

What are the symptoms?

  • Bad breath
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Loose teeth
  • Swelling of the gums
  • What is the treatment?

What is the treatment?

Dental cleaning to remove plaque and tartar from teeth will remove pockets in the gums. This reduces inflammation. Sometimes surgery may be necessary to treat deep pockets in the gums and loose teeth may need to be supported. Severe periodontitis leads to tooth loss and extraction; often, seniors may need to use dentures.

What is the best way to care for removable dentures?

  • Remove and rinse dentures after eating
  • Clean the mouth after removing dentures
  • Brush dentures daily
  • Soak dentures overnight
  • Rinse dentures before putting them back into the mouth

Is periodontitis preventable?

The good news is that periodontitis is preventable. Regular brushing, flossing and dental cleaning will reduce a person’s chance of developing periodontitis, and increase the chance of keeping his or her teeth for an entire lifetime.