Periodontal (Gum) Disease

Gum disease is an inflammatory disease that damages the supporting structures of the teeth this includes the bone and gum. If not treated there is a risk that could cause bone loss around the teeth causing the gum to recede, this could eventually lead to the teeth becoming loose, drift or move and eventually could be lost.

The most common forms of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis both of which are caused by plaque. Plaque is the film of bacteria that sticks to the teeth, it develops in all patients but regular efficient cleaning limits the development of levels that could initiate disease. Despite the level of cleaning each individual patient will react differently to plaque and to the levels of plaque. This difference can be explained by different environmental and genetic risk factors. This creates an individual susceptibility to disease for each individual person.

Gingivitis – Is a condition that is likely to occur at some point in everyone, plaque accumulation along the gum margin is the commonest cause. The effects of the inflammation is seen only in the gum. It is totally REVERSIBLE; the gum appears red and swollen and may bleed. Once the plaque is removed and good home cleaning is resumed the condition of the gums will return to normal with no previous sign of the disease.

Periodontitis– Initial signs are identical to gingivitits. The, major difference is that it is not limited to the gum and involves damage to the underlying bone. This damage is IRREVERSIBLE. Usually this requires professional intervention by either your dentist hygienist or Periodontist. There are some forms which are slowly progressing which usually affect a broad spectrum at diff rates of ages but largely in later life, but there are some more aggressive types that can affect very young individuals, the progression of which can be very quick. Roughly about 10% of the population experience a high susceptibility to disease, 10% show a good resistance while the rest vary in their susceptibility.

There are certain risk factors that make people more susceptible to disease, the factors we are currently aware of include:

  1. Smoking
  2. Bacterial plaque
  3. Diabetes
  4. Stress
  5. Genetics

Periodontal disease is being linked to many systemic illness in particular diabetes, heart disease and the list is growing. Evidence is increasing on all of these treatments and control of periodontal disease is showing to have an effect on the onset and control of theses diseases.

Initial treatment and diagnosis will come for you dentist or hygienist, however in some cases response to treatment can be limited and if that is the case early referral to a Periodontist can attempt to arrest the disease progression and regain control of your mouth. A Periodontist is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease.

The treatment of periodontal diseases involves the removal of the bacterial plaque, which develops below the gum. In the majority of cases simple non-surgical therapy can help to get the disease under control (see initial therapy). In more advanced cases periodontal surgery (see advanced therapy) may be required.

Any teeth that are severely affected may require extraction. My focus is always to retain teeth were possible. There is no better option than your natural teeth and any replacement is only a replacement for a space left by the tooth rather than a replacement for the tooth.

The main signs that you should look out that may indicate the presence of gum disease:

  • Swollen gums
  • Bleeding
  • Gum recession
  • Drifting of teeth
  • Discharge
  • Bad breath
  • Teeth appear longer
  • Spaces in between the teeth