28 Jul

What is Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)

Periodontal disease, often referred to as gum disease, is inflammation and infection of the gums caused by plaque. Plaque is a thick, sticky build up of bacteria on the teeth or fillings. If left on the tooth surface, plaque hardens to form calculus (tartar). It causes teeth to be uhealthy generally, undermines the stability and straightness of your teeth and leads to an overall poor smile.

Poor oral hygiene allows the plaque and tartar to build up causing irritation to the gums, which if left untreated can lead to bone loss and even tooth loss. Excellent brushing and flossing combined with routine checkups, x-rays and cleans by your dentist or periodontist is the only way to slow down or prevent the disease. A dentist or periodontist will use a periodontal probe to measure “gum pockets”. A healthy gum pocket is 2-3mm.

Early Stages: Gingivitis
The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. Bleeding when brushing and flossing is usually a sign of gingivitis and at this stage is easily treated with regular scale & cleans and thorough but gentle cleaning.

Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease. Treatment of periodontitis requires deep scaling and root planing of the teeth below the gum to remove all of the hard build up of tartar and smooth over any rough edges on old fillings or crowns to make cleaning at home easier. Continued routine scaling and cleaning is then required at least on a 6 monthly basis.

Greater Risk Patients
Smokers and immuno-suppressed patients can be at a greater risk of developing gum disease due to the decreased ability to fight the oral bacteria that causes this disease. Furthermore, some studies have shown a definite link between periodontal disease and heart disease.

Early Detection
Some common signs of periodontal disease are;
  • Red, inflamed and/or bleeding gums
  • Sore gums
  • Bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
  • Gums that appear to have shrunk causing gaps in between teeth
  • Loose teeth or teeth that have drifted apart