In this country more than 90% of people with teeth have chronic inflammation of the gum margin (gingivitis).1 2 It is caused by bacterial dental plaque, a soft sticky film of salivary proteins, bacteria and their products, which begins to form within an hour of cleaning the teeth. The inflammation can spread to the periodontal membrane and alveolar bone causing resorption of these tissues (periodontitis). The teeth then loosen over a period of years and are later lost: indeed after the age of 34 years more tooth extractions result from chronic periodontitis than from dental caries.3
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