Gum disease or Periodontal disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in our population. It is a bacterial infection of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. In most cases, gum disease is a preventable disease. This disease is caused by the bacteria which is present in the plaque and tartar deposits which build up on our teeth, especially around the gum line. As gum disease progresses, gums recede and bone around the teeth gradually dissolves away, which may eventually lead to tooth loss.
What are some of the warning signs of this disease?
- Bleeding gums when you brush your teeth or floss
- Persistent bad breath
- Receding gums or “long tooth” appearance
- Sensitive teeth and/or gums
- Loose teeth
gum and bone disease is often a silent disease.
Unfortunately, gum and bone disease is often a silent and painless disease. This means that most people do not realise there is a problem until the disease is quite advanced and the teeth have become loose and/or painful. Therefore it is important to have a dental check-up to screen for this disease, as you may have it and be completely unaware of it.
What can I do about it?
If you think you may have any of the above warning signs of gum disease, the first thing to do is get it checked out by a dentist. At Drummoyne Dental Practice, our dentists examine the gums as part of every normal dental check-up. X-ray images often help in the diagnosis of gum and bone disease.
The good news is that in the vast majority of cases, the progression of gum disease can be arrested with proper management and care. The bad news is that the management of gum disease becomes more difficult and less predictable with increasing severity of the disease.
GUM DISEASE TREATMENT
As mentioned previously, gum disease is caused by bacteria which is present in the plaque and tartar deposits on our teeth. Therefore, the key to successful management of the disease lies in the regular removal of plaque and tartar, above and below the gumline, through a professional dental cleaning.
Removal of plaque and tartar from the tooth surface is an ongoing, lifelong activity.
With the aim of reducing bacteria, treatment classically involves:
- a good level of dental hygiene care at home
- professional cleaning of teeth above and below the gum line (into the gingival pockets) to remove the plaque and tartar (which house the bacteria)
- regular periodic checkups
- elimination of known risk factors such as smoking
Gum disease causes permanent damage to the gums and bone, which hold our teeth in place. This is why it is so important to stop the progression of the disease through controlling the bacterial load on and around the teeth and gums. This is an ongoing, lifelong activity. This is why it is important to schedule a dental visit twice per year for a check-up and professional dental clean.
There are risk factors, which may make you more susceptible to developing periodontal disease. These risk factors include smoking, diabetes, stress, pregnancy and certain medications.
It is important to remember that prevention is always best. In most cases, periodontal disease can be prevented through good oral hygiene and early identification and management. See your dentist regularly.