Periodontal (Gum) Disease
What is Gum Disease?
- Gum disease is the swelling, soreness or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. It spreads to the bone which helps hold the teeth in place and if left untreated tooth loss will occur.
- Gum disease is the major cause of tooth loss in adults.
- Gum disease causes:
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums
- Recession or shrinkage of the gums
- Mobile or drifting teeth
- Tooth loss
There are two main types of gum disease: 'gingivitis' and 'periodontal disease'.
What is gingivitis?
- Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. This is when the gums around the teeth become very red and swollen. Often swollen gums bleed when you brush them. 'The bone around the teeth has not been affected. At this stage the disease process is usually completely reversible.
What is periodontal disease?
- Long-standing gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease. There are a number of types of periodontal disease and they all affect the tissues supporting the teeth. As the disease gets worse the bone fixing the teeth to the jaw is lost, making the teeth loose. If this is not treated, the teeth may become mobile, drift and eventually fall out.
Am I likely to get gum disease?
- About 10% of the population are more at risk of gum disease due to the fact that they are more susceptible to the effects of dental plaque. Some members of the population are also very resistant to the effects of plaque.
What is Plaque?
- Plaque is a collection of bacteria which a normally present in your mouth. It likes to collect particularly around where the gum and the teeth meet.
- Plaque is removed daily by effective brushing of your teeth. Plaque starts to re-form quickly after you have brushed your teeth.
- If plaque is not removed daily, this leads to gingivitis and then more established gum disease. In addition to this, long standing plaque combines with saliva and turns hard, forming calculus or tartar. This adheres to the teeth and root surfaces and is more difficult to remove.
- The bacteria in plaque cause gum disease.
Risk factors for acquiring gum disease
There are a variety, but the main ones are:
- Poor oral hygiene
Other risk factors include, diabetes, pregnancy and some medication and other general medical conditions.
How to treat it?
- First of all we will carry out a thorough assessment of your teeth checking the level of disease and we will tell you if any of your teeth are not salvageable.
- We will then carry out very careful and thorough removal of any hard and soft deposits from around the teeth and root surfaces. We usually use a local anaesthetic during this process.
- We will show you the correct tools for you to carefully clean all the areas of your teeth every day in order to help maintain good gum health.
- At review appointments we will re-check the treated areas and your cleaning to make sure that the gum health is improving.
- If any areas are not healing or have relapsed then we will re-treat those areas before they become more established.
- Once the gum health is established, it is important that regular oral hygiene regimes are maintained forever. In addition to this, regular reviews and hygiene maintenance therapy must be undertaken - usually on a 3-4 monthly basis. At these visits we will re-check the health of your gums and ensure your oral hygiene measures are tip top.