In Hungary, 20% of people above the age of 65 and 40% of people above the age of 75 are missing all their teeth. The problem may also be due to gingivitis associated with poor oral hygiene habits and the resulting periodontal disease. It is therefore worth paying more attention to prevention, and learning the proper tooth brushing technique, since periodontal disease and the accumulation of harmful bacteria can result in hair loss, joint pain, or even cardiovascular diseases or preterm childbirth. These topics will also be dealt with on the occasion of Semmelweis Health Days organized on 27 May. 

“Gingivitis and periodontal disease develop slowly, without pain, and there are no signs that would draw the patient’s attention to the problem. Therefore, most patients only turn to a specialist, when dentists and periodontists can no longer save a completely loose tooth”, said Dr. Attila Horváth, assistant professor at Semmelweis University’s Faculty of Dentistry, Department of Periodontology. 

As the periodontist points out, the antecedent of periodontal disease is gingivitis, the first visible sign of which is bleeding gums when brushing the teeth or a small red spot when someone bites into a crispy apple. He also added that out of a hundred people, only four have completely healthy and intact gums. This is because the oral cavity contains non-sterile, harmful and beneficial bacteria as well, for which food that have not been removed by proper tooth cleaning serves as a medium. That is why the first and most important step we can take to maintain healthy gums is to master proper dental care. 

Most people do not brush their teeth with a proper technique, as they often only remove plaque from the surface of the tooth, but the bacteria also settle interdentally as well as in the furrows at the junction of the teeth and gums. Therefore, in addition to thorough tooth brushing, it is also important to use dental floss or an interdental brush regularly”

– Dr. Attila Horváth explained.

“With the toothbrush we can achieve the best effect if we do not move it back and forth, but circularly on the surface of the tooth, and tilt it by about 45 degrees to reach the point of contact between the tooth and the gums as much as possible”, he said.

In the course of his presentation and related consultation opportunity, Dr. Attila Horváth will describe the entire process: the gums begin to recede as a result of the inflammation, the furrows deepen, the breakdown of the bone begins, as a result of which the teeth loosen, and eventually the tooth may fall out. In such cases, implants may only be a solution after proper pre-treatment and bone building. At the same time, the specialist highlights that the process may be reversed or stopped to a certain point, but it is essential to participate in regular dental check-ups and maintain a proper oral hygiene. 

The specialist also points out that untreated diabetes and smoking pose a serious risk and can speed up the process that may otherwise take several years, which may result in complete toothlessness. In Hungary, 20% of people above the age of 65 and 40% of people above the age of 75 are missing all their teeth.

However, untreated periodontal disease can cause not only tooth loss. Byproducts and toxins of harmful bacteria in the oral cavity that reach other organs via the bloodstream can cause focal symptoms, which may lead to a wide range of complaints from hair loss to joint pain, cardiovascular diseases and they also increase the risk of preterm childbirth eight-fold.

Orsolya Dávid
Photo: Attila Kovács – Semmelweis University
Translation: Katalin Illés-Romhányi