Gum disease (known as Periodontal disease) is the number one cause of tooth loss. This is because a small percentage of people (15-20%) have immune systems that overreact to the bad bacteria in their mouths. This results in break down of the bone and gum surrounding the tooth. This destruction is not always predictable and can occur sporadically. It is important that both adults and children are routinely checked for gum disease. Healthy gums do not bleed and it is essential that you brush and floss daily. Maintaining a high level of oral hygiene at home is essential to control gum disease.
GUM DISEASE IS NOT CURABLE BUT IT CAN BE TREATED AND CONTROLLED IN MOST CASES.
- What is periodontal disease?
Gum disease describes swelling, soreness and infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. Gingivitis is when the gums around the teeth become red and swollen. Long standing gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease. As the disease progresses, the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw is slowly lost, making teeth loose. Patients with gum disease are likely to also suffer from abscesses.
- What is the cause of gum disease?
All gum disease is triggered by plaque in susceptible patients. Plaque is a film of bacteria, which forms on the surface of teeth every day. Many bacteria are harmless but there are some bacteria in plaque, which have been shown to be the main cause of gum disease.
- Who is at risk of gum disease?
There are certain factors which known to be at higher risk for gum disease. Some are mentioned below:
1) SMOKING. Smokers suffer from more bone loss and heal less quickly than non-smokers
2) Dental neglect: Visiting the dentist regularly will help detect and treat gum disease
3) Heart disease: Gum inflammation products and bacteria can cause heart disease by combining with blood clotting cells.
4) Stroke: Studies have shown fatty deposits of stroke sufferers may contain bacteria from the mouth.
5) Diabetes: Diabetic patients are more likely to suffer from gum disease so it is essential to control blood sugar levels.
- What happens if gum disease is not treated?
Gum disease progresses slowly so you do not always notice the damage being caused. Over years, the bone is lost and teeth can become loose and eventually fall out.
- How do I know if I have gum disease?
The first sign is usually bleeding gums, which is noticeable when brushing or rinsing your mouth. You may also have a bad taste in your mouth and unpleasant breath odour.
- What treatments are needed?
You will be advised by the hygienist on how to clean your teeth and gums thoroughly. The hygienist will use hand instruments and ultrasonic scaling instruments to remove plaque in inaccessible areas under the gum. Local anaesthetic can be used to numb the gum if deep root cleaning is carried out.
- Once I have had periodontal disease, can I get it again?
Yes. Periodontal disease is never cured but it can only be controlled. If good hygiene is not maintained, gum disease will continue to worsen.