What is Gum Disease & How do I treat it?
Gum disease is usually caused by a build-up of plaque on teeth and along the gum line. Plaque is a sticky coating containing bacteria. The immune system tries to get rid of plaque with an inflammation response. This is seen as redness and swelling of the gum around the tooth.
What is Gum Disease?
Gingivitis is another name for inflamed gums. Plaque is a collection of food and bacteria that accumulates on teeth. This causes an inflammatory response as the body pumps blood to the area to fight the infection. This is why gums may bleed. Gingivitis is the most common disease affecting mankind.
If this plaque is not adequately removed it can harden and stick to the tooth, resulting in the formation of calculus. Tooth brushing will not remove this, once calculus forms, a professional clean is needed for its removal.
What can you do?
Our hygienist, gently and thoroughly removes all plaque and calculus allowing the gums to have an opportunity to heal.
We also work with our patients to assist them in achieving optimum oral hygiene, by guiding them with correct brushing and flossing techniques and aids.
“Many people feel that they are correctly brushing their teeth but upon our examination we can see that this is not the case. Sometimes people avoid brushing where it bleeds as they think they are damaging their gums. However, the opposite is true.”
Periodontitis – What is it?
Over time if gingivitis is left untreated in susceptible patients, the inflammatory process, which is caused by the bacteria on the teeth, causes the destruction of the bone that holds the tooth in the jaw. In its most advanced form this causes loosening and eventual loss of teeth.
This is a complex process but put simply there are four main reasons why this happens:
- Poor oral hygiene,
- An individuals own susceptibility due to chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and genetic make up,
- Localised issues such overhanging restorations or overloading of the teeth due to grinding.
Recently, new evidence strongly correlates untreated periodontitis with a host of general medical conditions, most notably heart disease.
What can you do?
Treatment for periodontitis is similar to gingivitis but the urgency is even greater and is as follows:
- Improve oral hygiene and frequently visit our hygienist for professional cleaning,
- Quit smoking,
- Control chronic medical conditions such as diabetes,
- Rectify local exacerbating factors such as poorly adapted restorations or provision of a mouthguard for those who are grinding their teeth (bruxism).
The earlier this disease is treated the better the prognosis. On an initial consultation, for every new patient at our practice, we take a baseline record of the state of the gums by recording a periodontal chart. Thus doing so, we can then track whether there is a generalised improvement in the condition over time. If no improvement is recorded, we identify the reasoning behind why this is the case and in certain circumstances may refer to a Periodontist, who specialises in the treatment of periodontal conditions.