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There are two major stages of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. The earlier stage, gingivitis, is a mild form of gum disease caused by plaque build-up around the gum line which causes inflammation of the gums. If you neglect to brush or floss your teeth daily, this plaque build-up will trap bacteria and cause gum disease. Your gums will appear red and swollen, and you could experience bleeding when you brush or floss. If properly treated, it may be reversed.
Left untreated, gingivitis turns into periodontitis. During this more destructive disease stage, the supporting bones and fibres that hold your teeth in place have been irreversibly damaged, as bacteria penetrate the deeper pockets of tissue. Immediate treatment is necessary to prevent further damage and tooth loss.
Gum disease usually progresses slowly and painlessly, meaning it can take years for sufferers to realise there is a problem – but it is easier to treat when it’s caught early.
According to research, gum disease affects 3 out of every 4 adults over the age of 35 in the UK. About 15% of the population appear to suffer from more severe forms of the disease, which caused rapid loss of supporting bone. This group appears to be at greatest risk of losing teeth through periodontal disease caused by the toxins produced by bacteria which regularly collect on the teeth.
The best way to avoid or manage gum disease is by practising good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly.
Why do some people suffer from this problem and not others?
Around 15% of the population is susceptible. Our knowledge is improving all the time of why this is, although 3 major factors are thought to be responsible: family history, stress and smoking. Stopping smoking is an important part of reducing the risk of developing the disease. Certain general diseases such as diabetes may also make an individual more susceptible.
What are some risk factors?
You may be at risk for gum disease if any of the following apply to you:
- Tobacco and alcohol use
- Systematic diseases (such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer)
In addition, the following types of prescription drugs may also increase the risk of gum disease.
Talk with your dentist if you are taking:
- Cancer therapy drugs
- Oral contraceptives
- An anti-epilepsy drug
- A calcium channel blocker
Symptoms of periodontal disease
Gum disease is considered a “silent” disease because pain does not always accompany warning signs. See your dentist if you experience:
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Bleeding gums when you brush your teeth
- Loose teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- A bad taste in your mouth
- Gum abscesses
- Receding gums
Dental Specialists is a leading dental practice for periodontal treatment. Get in touch with us if you are worried about any of these symptoms.
Periodontal Disease Treatment
Periodontal treatment methods depend upon the type and severity of the disease. Our specialist team will evaluate for periodontal disease and recommend the appropriate treatment.
How your periodontist treats your gum disease is largely dependent upon the stage of your infection and the amount of deterioration involving your gums, teeth, supporting tissues and bone.
After reviewing your Digital Radiographs and performing a thorough periodontal exam, your periodontist will discuss your treatment options, answer questions, and explain what happens:
- During and after the procedure(s)
- Possible complications, risks, benefits and costs of treatment
- The number of office visits required for treatment
- What to do post-treatment as your gums heal
- How to keep gum disease under control after treatment is complete (maintenance programme)
- After your treatment has ended, thorough maintenance is essential for the long-term success of your treatment and to maintain your oral health.
Scaling and Root Planing
The early stages of gum disease may only require non-surgical treatment. The most well-known type of non-surgical treatment is known as scaling and root planning, a minor procedure involves careful removal of plaque and tartar from the affected gums, and smooth the tooth root to remove any bacterial toxins. During this procedure, your hygienist will remove harmful bacteria and irritants from deep beneath your gums to prevent plaque from accumulating again. Most patients will not need any further treatment, although we recommend visiting our hygienists regularly to maintain your oral health.
Laser Gum Treatment
An innovative technology that can assist non-surgical treatments for gum disease, laser dentistry involves treating the gingival pocket with a narrow, intense beam of light energy at a wavelength that is ideally suited for soft tissue procedures. This light energy removes a tiny amount of diseased tissue, decontaminates any gum pockets and aides in reducing the bacteria associated with the disease.
With much less bacteria in your mouth, the healing and tissue regeneration process will be faster and more effective. This non-invasive procedure preserves the healthy gum tissue instead of removing the healthy gum with diseased tissue. After the area is thoroughly cleaned, the body can heal the area naturally.
Pocket Depth Reduction
Periodontal disease damages these tissues and bones supporting the tooth, leaving open spaces around the teeth known as ‘pockets’. The larger these pockets are, the easier it is for bacteria to collect inside them, causing more bone and tissue loss. Without treatment, the supportive structure degrades to the point that the tooth either falls out or needs to be removed.
We can avoid this with a minor procedure to take the harmful bacteria out of these pockets. We fold back the gum tissue, remove the bacteria hiding underneath, as well as the hardened plaque and tartar that have collected. We then secure the gum tissue back in place. We also smooth any irregular surfaces of the damaged bone to limit the areas where bacteria can live, making it easier for your gums to reattach to healthy bone.
Periodontal disease can cause your gums to recede, exposing the roots of your teeth. As teeth are supposed to be protected by the gum line, when they are exposed, they can be very sensitive and susceptible to decay. Exposed roots can also make your teeth appear longer and have an ageing effect on your appearance.
Gum graft surgery involves taking gum tissue from another part of your mouth – usually your palate – and using it to cover the exposed root, restoring the gum line to its original, healthy location. This can protect the root from decay, lower sensitivity, reduce further recession and bone loss – and make your smile appear more youthful.
Gum disease can seriously damage your teeth – but if a tooth is decayed, broken below the gum line or too short, it may not be possible to affix a crown or bridge to restore it. In this case, dental crown lengthening can adjust the gum and bone level, making restoration possible.
This procedure is performed under local anaesthetic to reshape the gum line to improve the aesthetics of your smile by exposing more of your teeth. Gum is folded back, bone and the gums are adjusted to be in harmony to the new restoration on the tooth surface, gums are placed back with tiny sutures.
As well as medical reasons, crown lengthening may also be applied for cosmetic purposes for patients who feel their smile is too ‘gummy’ when there is too much gum displayed when smiling, or the front teeth are too short.
Ridge augmentation is a common procedure performed to help recreate the natural contour of the gums. Often, after a tooth is removed, your jawbone no longer needs to support it and will naturally begin to deteriorate and recede. The height and width of the socket, which was supported by the tooth, will begin to shrink after the tooth is removed. This can lead to a gum indentation developing where the tooth used to be.
Ridge augmentation is a simple procedure that regenerates jaw bone and tissue, to re-establish your natural gum line, giving you an enhanced quality of life and giving you back your beautiful smile.
While this procedure is not usually medically necessary, it will benefit patients with missing teeth and those who don’t qualify for dental implants. Dental implants require a significant amount of jawbone prior to the procedure, to succeed. Ridge augmentation will not only help patients who suffer from a deteriorated jawbone support their restorations or prepare for an implant dentistry procedure, it will also make a replacement tooth look completely natural.
Plaque, a sticky film, continuously forms on tooth surfaces. Once your periodontal treatment has been completed, we recommend you book periodontal cleanings by a hygienist or dentist x times a year