Sunday, January 15, 2006

periodontal disease (pyorrhea, gum disease)

Periodontal disease (pyorrhea) is inflammation of the gum tissue caused by the presence of plaque and calculus. This results in gingival (gum) inflammation, recession of the gums, pocket formations, and loss of bony support of the teeth. If the infection continues untreated it will spread to the bone in which the teeth are rooted, causing the teeth to detach from their supporting tissue.
Estimates of the incidence of periodontal disease in the over 65 age group range as high as 90 percent. This disease often starts in middle age and is accelerated by systemic disorders such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and metabolic deficiencies.
Symptoms of periodontal disease include gum inflammation, recession of the gum, and loosening of the teeth.
The prevention and treatment of pyorrhea is the key to the preservation of teeth in the elderly. Removal of food plaque and calculus is the initial step in treatment, but good oral hygiene and proper nutrition remain the primary preventive measures. For the person limited by physical disabilities the dentist may suggest modification in tooth brushes and other methods of oral hygiene such as Waterpiks and mouthwashes.
See also CARIES, SENILE.
Steinberg, F. U. Care of the Geriatric Patient, 6th ed. St. Louis: C. V. Mosby Co., 1983.

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