Peridontal disease is an infection affecting the gums, bone and other supporting tissues of the teeth. It is caused by plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria that forms constantly on all of our teeth. Most of us have a less serious form of reversible inflammation called GINGIVITIS from time to time. Those who have the more severe form called PERIODONTITIS, are at greater risk of losing teeth as they become loose, fall out or have to be removed by the dentist.
Why do some people have worse gum disease than others?
Some of us may be more genetically predisposed to severe periodontal disease and a number of other factors affect disease severity. Family history, stress and tobacco smoking are important contributing factors. Certain general diseases such as diabetes may also make someone more prone to periodontal disease.
Quitting smoking is especially important as it can reduce the risk of developing gum problems and increase the effectiveness of gum treatment.
What are the signs of gum disease?
The signs and symptoms are variable but may include the following:
• Bleeding on tooth brushing.
• Red, swollen and possible tender gums
• Persistent bad breath
• Gums that have pulled away from the teeth (pocketing)
• Receding gums (getting long in the teeth)
• Loose teeth or teeth that have changed position
• Pus or discharge around the gums
• A change in the way the teeth bite together
What should you do if you think you have gum disease?
The first thing to do is visit your dentist for a thorough check up of your teeth and gums. The dentist will then decide if a referral to a specialist is necessary. The periodontist will take measurements of the gum crevices or pockets around your teeth and x-rays are likely to be taken. Following this a diagnosis and detailed advice of any necessary treatment will be given to you.
How is gum disease treated?
Regular visits to your dentist are essential if gum problems are to be prevented or recognised and treated.
Treatment will depend on the type of gum disease present and how serious or advanced the condition is. It will often include instruction and help with specific oral hygiene methods to control the bacteria that collect on our teeth.
There may also be a need for the dentist or hygienist to carry out meticulous tooth cleaning both above and below the gum line, in order to remove as much of the tartar and plaque deposits. Antibiotics may occasionally be used. If the conditions are right these measures will encourage the gums to heal and stop the disease progressing.
More serious disease may require the use of a wide variety of surgical techniques. Some of these techniques in certain situations may allow for gum recession to be treated in order to improve the overall appearance.
Following treatment, a period of ongoing maintenance is almost required to monitor the gums and prevent or treat any areas if the disease returns. A periodontist, hygienist or dentist may provide this care
A commitment to maintenance treatment is a commitment to better heath.