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Periodontitis and Cavities

There are many reasons to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Healthy teeth and gums not only look better, but also promote better eating habits and nutrition. By contrast, unhealthy, inflamed gums are associated with various diseases, including coronary heart disease and an elevated risk for heart attack, while tooth loss is linked to malnutrition.

In a healthy mouth, teeth are intact and anchored in pink with firm gums that do not bleed during brushing. A regular dental care program should include flossing and brushing twice daily, as well as regular visits to the dentist for cleaning and examination.

Gum disease and tooth loss are especially common among the elderly. Some researchers believe that malnutrition in older people may be in part due to poor dentition (the type, number, and arrangement of a set of teeth). In fact, some researchers believe that the short life span of early humans was related to tooth loss that caused starvation (Goodman 1989; Story 1986).

The three most common problems in the oral cavity are dental caries (cavities) and the periodontal diseases gingivitis and periodontitis. These are caused by multiple factors, including plaque buildup, diet, oral hygiene, genetics, environment, and lifestyle factors. For more information on gingivitis, the most common dental disease, see Life Extension’s Gingivitis protocol. Dental caries and periodontitis are discussed in this chapter.