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Hello Dr. Khan
I have a couple of questions about gum disease. Could my gum disease be passed on to other people? Is this genetic? How can we avoid this disease?
- Taybur Ramman

Dear Mr. Rahman,
Thanks for your important query.
Did you know that more than 75 percent of all adults have gum disease? Many people have the disease and are not even aware of this problem.

Did you know that gum disease is the number one reason in adults for loss of teeth? Until their teeth become loose and fall out, many people do not know their ailment and how serious it is.

Periodontal disease may be passed from parents to children and between couples, according to an article in the September 1997 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Researchers suggest that bacteria causing periodontal disease are passed through saliva. This means that when a family or couple comes into contact with each other's saliva, they're at risk of contracting the periodontal disease of another family member.

Based on this research, the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) recognises that treatment of gum disease may involve entire families.

If one family member has periodontal disease, the AAP recommends that all family members see a dental professional for a periodontal disease screening.

Did you know that HIV virus could be passed through kissing between two people who have advanced gum disease? This however doesn't mean that an HIV patient in sound dental health can spread the virus through saliva.

A recent report indicated that a young woman in a relationship with a man who had HIV caught AIDS from kissing him. Both people had moderate to advanced periodontal disease and it is believed that she caught AIDS because of a direct blood transfer between their diseased gums.

Research also proves that up to 30 percent of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people with a genetic test before they even show signs of the disease and getting them into early preventive treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.

Do your gums bleed when you brush, floss or use a toothpick? Are your gums red, swollen and painful? Do you have puss coming from between your gums and teeth if you push on your gums? Are your gums pulling away from your teeth? Has there been a change in the way your teeth come together when you bite or chew on food? Do your teeth look longer because of receding gums? Are your teeth loose? Do you have bad breath? If you wear a partial denture, is there a change in the way it fits?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you may have a problem with your gums. You should visit your dentist and get an evaluation and schedule an appointment. You may need more than just a routine cleaning for your teeth to get your gums healthy again.

A thorough evaluation of your gums and your overall dental health includes a comprehensive examination, a complete set of X-rays, and periodontal probing. If there is bone loss and deep pocketing you may need non-surgical periodontal or surgical periodontal care.

To keep your teeth for a lifetime, you must remove the plaque from your teeth and gums every day with proper brushing and flossing. Regular dental visits are also important. Daily cleaning will help keep calculus formation to a minimum, but it won't completely prevent it. A professional cleaning at least twice a year is necessary to remove calculus from places your toothbrush and floss might have missed.



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