Gum disease is usually painless, which is why you have to be super vigilant with your oral hygiene and scheduling regular check-ups with your dentist. Let them know of any changes that you have found in your mouth between check-ups. Symptoms like persistent bad breath and swollen, red or tender gum should not be ignored. Don’t just dismiss the fact that you have bad breath. Don’t feel embarrassed to tell your dentist, as it could be a warning that something is not right.
Gum disease is an inflammatory disease which is divided into Gingivitis and Periodontitis. Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums around the teeth which if left untreated leads to Periodontitis which is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults today. Sadly there are many people that only see a dentist for relief of pain or when their gums start to bleed, or they notice that a tooth or teeth are loose.
Gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, is a bacterial infection that is confined to the gums. It is characterised by redness, inflammation, and bleeding of the gums. Gingivitis if treated promptly is reversible.
Periodontitis involves loss of the bone that supports the teeth, and occurs when gingivitis has advanced to a more serious state involving bone loss.
Bacteria in the oral cavity together with saliva form a film on the teeth called plaque which builds up and if not removed by brushing and flossing can become thickened and hard forming Calculus (tartar). This calculus must be removed in order for the gums and periodontium (supporting structures of the teeth) to heal.
Medications, stress, smoking, hormones, and many systemic medical conditions can aggravate periodontal disease.
The risk factors may be one or more of the following:
- Plaque build up
- Calculus deposits
- Dental restorations
- Wisdom teeth
- Food traps
- Crowding of teeth
Generally periodontal treatment involves scaling and root planning of the teeth in order to remove the calculus deposits. Measurement of your periodontal crevice (an anatomical sulcular space between the tooth and the gum) give a quantitative analysis of your periodontal health. By monitoring changes in these periodontal pocket depths, the progress of gum disease can be monitored. In a healthy mouth these measurements are between 1 and 3 mm. A deeper measurement, 4 to 10 mm indicates Periodontitis and are referred to as pockets. With advanced cases, we refer the patient to a Periodontist who specialises in advanced treatments for gums and the supporting structures of the teeth.
Treatment should be completed in a timely manner for the effective control of oral bacteria to improve the outcome of treatment.
Delaying your periodontal treatment may lead to:
- Worsening of infection
- Bleeding, redness, inflammation, pain of gums
- Mobile (loose) teeth
- Movement of teeth
- The need for dental extraction
- The need for tooth replacement
- The poor control of medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease
Like most things in life, our mouth and particularly our gums need ongoing care to maintain them in their best state of health.
Periodontitis is a chronic (long term) disease that cannot be totally cured with therapies currently available to the dental team.
Periodontal maintenance is an essential element of successful periodontal therapy.
Without regular periodontal maintenance, patients exhibit a decrease in self-care and recurrence of periodontitis (thus leading to further bone loss).
With good periodontal maintenance, most periodontal patients can retain their teeth in function and comfort for many years.