Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss worldwide and can be prevented. Ensuring your teeth and gums stay healthy is the most important aspect of dentistry.
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We take gum disease very seriously. So much so, that it is the first thing we assess with all our new and existing patients.
It’s a fact that controlling gum disease can save your teeth – a very good reason to take care of your teeth and gums.
What causes gum disease?
Our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky, colourless “plaque” on teeth. Brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque. Plaque that is not removed can harden and form calculus that brushing doesn’t clean. Only a professional cleaning can remove calculus.
The longer plaque and calculus are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums that is called “gingivitis. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist.
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to “periodontitis” (which means “inflammation around the tooth”). In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called “pockets”) that become infected. Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.
How do I know if I have gum disease?
Like gingivitis, periodontitis is usually painless, and by the time people become aware of problems, usually teeth becoming loose or drifting out of alignment, serious damage has been done. If caught early enough, most periodontal disease can be treated.
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
How is gum disease treated?
The main goal of treatment is to control the infection. The number and types of treatment will vary, depending on the extent of the disease. Any type of treatment requires that the patient keep up good daily care at home. The doctor may also suggest changing certain behaviours, such as quitting smoking, as a way to improve treatment outcome.
Early to moderate Gum Disease or Periodontal Disease
New studies show that more effective treatment brings together two components:
- Educating patients in the proper management of plaque removal and oral hygiene techniques. This is a critical component in the success of halting the disease progression
- Meticulous removal of plaque and calculus from the gum pockets (debridement). In this way, treatment targets the causes and effects, namely the bacteria initiating disease at the edge of the gum and the bacteria progressing the disease within the gum pockets.
Severe Gum Disease or Periodontal Disease
Bone or tissue grafts
Grafts can replace tissue destroyed by periodontitis. If gum tissue has been lost, tissue grafting is done to cover exposed bone.
In this procedure, your dentist or periodontist lifts your gums to clean underneath them. Your gums are then sutured back in place (using stitches) to hold your teeth tightly against the gums.
After treatment / What is next?
The aim of treatment is to slow the gum disease down as much as possible. To achieve this, regular dental examinations are required by your dentist to evaluate your gum health and routine hygiene appointment necessary to help maintain your improved smile.