Research indicates that early adulthood and midlife, not old age, are the most active times for periodontitis. The older adult may present with limited active periodontal disease and generally can be effectively managed through a conservative (non-surgical) approach. The greater concern posed by periodontal disease in the older patient is that a full lifetime's prior attachment destruction due to the disease has a high likelihood for exposing root surfaces throughout the mouth. These are prone to trapping debris and plaque because of their greater roughness and because of the gingival embrasures that are created by a loss of soft tissue.
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