Gum disease, also known as periodontal is a disease that affects your gums and the surrounding tissue. The disease can be broken down to two stages:
- Gingivitis (early stage)
- Periodontitis (advanced gum disease)
How To Spot Gum Disease?
The most common and easiest signs to spot are red & swollen gums, and also when your gums bleed. As soon as you notice these signs, we recommend seeing your dentist as soon as possible. Like any treatment in dentistry, the earlier a dental problem is picked up, the quicker and easier it will be to treat.
When brushing or flossing your teeth, you will more than likely notice bleeding. It is important to carry on your every day oral hygiene habit as not brushing/flossing will be counter productive at treating gum disease (as it will allow more bacteria to attack your gums and teeth).
What Is Periodontitis?
As gum disease develops and becomes more advanced, the term used is Periodontitis. This means inflammation around the tooth and if not treated it can lead to severe tooth loss. At this stage you can expect to see more symptoms:
- Loose teeth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Gum line receding
- Bad breath/bad taste in the mouth
- Excessive production of saliva
The bodies natural defence when this happens is to recede away from the infection. This is what causes the gum lines to recede and leads to loose teeth, and eventually severe tooth loss. The infection will also attack the supporting bone in the jaw and can lead to further complications when you look at the different tooth replacement options (implants/dentures etc).
What Causes Gum Disease?
Bacteria is the start of gum disease. As bacteria builds up (plaque) it will eventually turn into a hard substance known as tartar (calculus). This will then start to irritate your gums and you will notice them bleed (as well as other symptoms). If left untreated, this will then turn into advanced gum disease and you will suffer from more symptoms.
Tartar cannot be removed with conventional cleaning methods as it is too hard. Dental hygienists (recommended to visit twice a year) are able to use professional dental tools to remove this tough substance and help protect your teeth and gums.
How We Treat Gum Disease?
The first step to treating gum disease is with the conservative (non-surgical) method of scaling and root planing (SRP). This is when we simply remove the build-up of plaque and tartar from your teeth, root surfaces, by carefully scaling and scraping around them. This is done to tackle the cause of the inflammation and also to stop the bacteria from gathering in these places again. Depending how severe your condition is, this may require multiple appointments to complete. We can also use a local anesthetic to prevent any discomfort during the treatment.
Your gums will then need some time to heal and in doing so, reattach themselves to the healthy parts of the teeth. We will need to assess your gums and teeth to determine if any further treatment will be required.
If you have had scaling and root planning but the gum tissue is not settling nicely around the tooth, it will make it difficult for you to keep the deep pocket area clean. You may be suitable for periodontal pocket reduction. This is an invasive procedure, where the gum tissue is folded back, so any bacteria that has worked itself deeper can be removed. If there is any damaged bone, this may need to be smoothed over so the gum tissue can heal and reattach.
If your roots of your teeth have been exposed (gum recession), gum tissue can be taken from another area and then used to cover the afflicted areas. It’s important to treat exposed roots as if left untreated, it can lead to teeth sensitivity and bacteria can get into the gum pockets causing infections, potentially leading to gum disease again. This procedure can also help prevent further gum recession and bone loss as the new gum tissue heals and takes to the treatment area.
In the more severe cases which has led to bone loss, a more invasive treatment will be required to bring you back to dental health. First the bacteria will be removed from the treatment area. Either synthetic bone or natural bone (from your body) will be used in the bone loss areas. It will be applied with tissue stimulating protein to help your body regenerate the bone loss.
Bone loss is important to watch out for, as progressive bone loss can cause teeth to become loose and eventually, you will start to lose them. To achieve dental health again will cost more in time and money, as further treatments will be required.
The biggest way to combat gum disease from developing in the first place or even occurring again, is by practicing a meticulous oral hygiene routine at home. By effective cleaning, you will stop the build-up of bacteria that leads to plaque and tartar.
By also attending regular dental check-ups and dental hygiene appointments, we will be able to keep an eye on your dental health and also tackle any tough deposits of tartar that cannot be removed through conventional cleaning tools.
If you are a smoker, it will be advisable to cut down after you have had periodontal treatment as you will be more prone to relapsing. Also, after you have recovered, if you do smoke we would advise more regular visits to the dentist and hygienist to ensure it is not developing again.
What To Do If You Suspect Gum Disease?
If you are worried you may be suffering with gum disease, please do not hesitate to call us and book your dental assessment today.