Gum (Periodontal) Disease
Today, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the 30+ bracket.
Periodontitis – What is it?
Periodontitis is a disease of the gums and the deeper supporting tissues of the teeth. Approximately 40% of adults experience this, which compromises the underlying bone structure and support systems of the teeth. However, it can be easily prevented with regular visits to the hygienist and a committed personal oral hygiene routine.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky bacterial substance at the gum line. These bacteria, when undisturbed, accumulate at the gum margin and produce toxins and acids that irritate the gums. This causes bleeding gums or gingivitis in the short-term
Eventually, the undisturbed plaque hardens to form calculus due to the calcium ions in saliva. This calculus provides an ideal site for further anaerobic bacteria growth and invasion of the gum tissues begins. The bacteria then begin to damage the gum attachment fibres and bony support of the teeth. This can lead to loosening of the teeth.
This calculus cannot be removed through brushing or flossing and must be removed by a hygienist to ensure plaque control and healing of the gum tissues.
What are the symptoms of periodontitis?
- Bleeding gums
- Bad Breath (halitosis)
- Metallic Taste
- Red /swollen gums
- Gum recession /overgrowth
- Sensitive teeth /gums
Can it be cured?
Periodontitis is an irreversible condition and can therefore be treated but not cured. It involves the permanent loss of attachment and support of the teeth. Treatment aims at preventing advancement of the condition and involves some regeneration of attachment of the gums to the teeth. It will also significantly reduce bleeding, sensitive gums and bad breath. Successful gum treatment by the hygienist and meticulous home care (flossing, brushing and mouth washing) will resolve gum inflammation so that the gums appear pink and firm again instead of red and swollen.
Why treat periodontitis if it can’t be cured?
Recent research documents a link between gum health and overall wellbeing. For example, diabetics find that when their gum disease is controlled, their blood glucose levels tend to be as well. Untreated periodontitis may be associated with increased risk of heart attack and infection. Aside from considerable medical considerations, periodontitis can also be involved in a host of dental issues such as abscesses, loosening of teeth and decay.
How is it treated?
Initially the gum health is assessed through periodontal analysis/charting. This involves recording the depth of periodontal pockets, points of bleeding, the roots of the teeth gum recession and teeth mobility.
Secondly, a treatment plan is formulated and recommended. This will consist of two – six visits of scaling/root planning/subgingival currettage of the tooth surfaces and the pockets formed by the gum infection (cleaning accumulated plaque and calculus from the crown and roots of teeth), polishing of tooth surfaces and detailed oral hygiene instruction. At the culmination of treatment, a review appointment will be scheduled.
What is involved in maintenance?
Maintenance involves meticulous home care practices and single visits at regular three – six monthly intervals, or as recommended by the hygienist. The hygienist will carefully monitor your gum health, then scale, root-plane and polish your teeth; concluding with an application of fluoride to help prevent sensitivity and decay.
What can I do to protect my teeth and gums for life?
- Commit to and attend recall appointments every 3, 4, or 6 months, as recommended by the hygienist.
- Personal oral hygiene routine
- Effective brushing 2-3 minutes twice daily, using an electric toothbrush
- Brush with extra soft bristles
- Daily flossing
- Tongue cleaning
- Mouthwash (without alcohol) to reduce the accumulation of dental plaque
Always remember that prevention is far more effective than treatment. Whilst gum disease is never completely cured, it can be successfully managed with the help of our team at d-spa.