What are periodontal diseases (gum disease)
Periodontal disease (often called gum disease) occurs in the gums and jawbones around the teeth. It is caused by the bacteria (plaque) that form on our teeth. Some people are more susceptible than others. If untreated, it can lead to loss of teeth and many other dental problems such as pain and swelling and drifting of teeth. It is preventable and treatable if caught early enough.
What are the symptoms?
Periodontal disease is often painless. You may have bleeding gums, red, swollen and tender gums, loose teeth, an unpleasant taste or bad breath. The signs may not be visible to the patient but can be detected by a regular dental examination.
Why is periodontal treatment needed?
Untreated periodontal disease is likely to become worse. You may have recession (shrinking back of your gums) or your dentist may have shown you pocketing around your teeth. These pockets (gaps) form between the gums and the teeth and can become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone may be involved.
Eventually, teeth can become loose, drift out of position, become painful and may have to be removed or become so loose that they drop out. There are different types of gum disease and some are more rapid and aggressive than others.
What is the cause?
The main cause is the reaction of your gums to the build up of bacterial plaque which is constantly forming on teeth. Plaque can be removed by tooth brushing and flossing or other type of interdental cleaning. If plaque is not removed it can turn into a hard substance called scale, calculus or tartar (it’s all the same stuff!). This then acts as a “hiding place” for the plaque. This calculus can only be removed by the dentist or hygienist.
What can make a person more likely to develop periodontal disease? Why me?
Although your effective cleaning of your teeth is the most important factor in prevention of periodontal diseases. Some people are more prone than others. This is a genetic predisposition which we can now test for. Gum disease can run in families.
Major risk factors also include smoking. People who smoke can triple the way their gums respond to plaque and are more likely to suffer from periodontal disease and to suffer from the more severe forms of the disease. Smokers have been found to heal more slowly after treatment. If you are a smoker your dentist will discuss the possible affects on your mouth with you.
Other risk factors include diabetes, stress and some medications and medical conditions.
What is the treatment?
Your dentist will assess the condition of your gums and discuss this with you. Treatment varies depending on the severity of your periodontal disease. Treatment involves removal of plaque and calculus from above and below the gum. This is done by thoroughly scaling the teeth and your cleaning at home. It may also involve antibacterial treatment or possibly surgery of the gum. Your dentist will discuss the details of your treatment with you. We offer the latest treatments for periodontal “guided tissue regeneration” and bone regeneration.
Is there anything I can do?
You will need to remove the plaque from your teeth and gums thoroughly and regularly by tooth brushing and flossing and/or other forms of interdental cleaning. Your dentist or hygienist will advise you of the methods most suited to you.
What are the common complications of treatment?
The success of any treatment depends on your body’s response to the treatment. Common complications include sensitivity, incomplete healing and very rarely, a gum abscess after treatment.