What is Periodontal or Gum disease?

Periodontal disease is the inflammation and infection of the gums. Plaque is a slimy sticky film that builds up on the teeth with-in 1 hour of brushing. When this plaque layer is allowed to harden, it becomes calculus (tartar). Calculus growth on teeth at gum level or under the gum level over time leads to inflammation and can, over time, cause deep pockets between the teeth and gums and a loss of bone around teeth. This is known as periodontal disease or gum disease. Thankfully, if detected in the early stages, this disease can be treated before the teeth and bone structure begin to deteriorate.

What are the signs of Periodontal disease?

  • Red, swollen, tender, painful or bleeding gums

  • Gums that have shrunk from the teeth

  • Persistent bad breath

  • Gritty feel between teeth ( sign of tartar build-up)

  • A bad taste in the mouth

  • Abscesses between teeth and gums

  • A denture no longer fits properly

  • Loose teeth, teeth drifting apart and gaps appearing between teeth

What is Gingivitis? 

Gingivitis is a response by the gum tissue caused by bacteria on calculus & plaque building up around the teeth. It is usually caused by bacterial plaque that accumulates in the small gaps between the gums and the teeth and by calculus (tartar) that forms on the teeth if your brushing and flossing technique is not adequate. These accumulations may be tiny, even microscopic, but the bacteria in them produce foreign chemicals and toxins that cause inflammation of the gums around the teeth. This will irritate the gums and cause them to become inflamed and swollen. You may notice they bleed when you brush your teeth, or they may appear red rather than pink and healthy. Gingivitis is a reversible condition and effective cleaning will lead to healthy gums in a couple of weeks. If the plaque has hardened into calculus we can remove this for you professionally. 

What causes plaque? 

Plaque is a bio-film which is a firmly adherent mass of bacteria in a matrix. It cannot be rinsed off but can be removed by brushing. Plaque build-up and calculus are caused by poor oral hygiene. Bacteria in plaque and calculus can damage the gums and cause gingivitis. This can usually be treated by removing the plaque and calculus, then daily brushing and flossing.

What are the advanced stage of gum disease? 

When gum disease is left untreated for some time it can progress to the underlying tissues and result in a quite serious condition called Periodontitis. Periodontitis can cause severe damage to teeth, gums and bone. Gums recede from the teeth resulting in the teeth becoming loose. Teeth may even fall out or require extraction.

How is it prevented and treated?

Periodontal treatment can slow down gum disease and even stop its progression. You can help prevent gum disease by brushing and flossing daily and having 6 monthly dental check-ups.

Periodontal treatment involves:

  • Scaling – Scaling involves removing stubborn bacteria and calculus wedged below the gum-line

  • Root Planning – involves removing plaque,tartar and any damaged cementum (outermost layer of root) from the roots of the teeth to leave a cleansed and smooth surface

  • Possible surgery to stop, control and/ or correct defect.

  • Sometimes medications and/ or mouthrinses are also given.

It is important after this preventative treatment, that patients are dedicated to continuing their oral health routines. Treatment will meticulously clean the area - but this must be maintained in order to see effective and lasting results.

Periodontal disease

Is a disease of the gum tissue and underlying bone. Unlike gingivitis, periodontitis is associated with irreversible loss of the underlying bone. Gum pockets usually open up between the tooth and gum and act as reservoirs for bacteria unless treated. The rate of bone loss varies very much from individual to individual. Up to 80% of the population will most likely have some form of periodontal disease, and some of these people will lose a number of teeth if they do not obtain treatment. Periodontitis is usually painless, so by the time people become aware they have a problem, teeth are becoming loose or drifting out of alignment. By this stage serious damage has been done, although if caught early enough, most cases can be treated.