Periodontal or Gum Disease Information
Gum or periodontal disease results when the tissues that support the attachment of the teeth to the jaw (the gums, ligament, and bone) are affected by a bacterial infection. The bacterial infection starts when a film of dental plaque or tartar coats the teeth; when this film coating is not regularly removed, toxins that irritate the gums are produced.
The gum irritation progresses to the formation of pockets between the gums and the teeth; this space will then be the breeding ground of more bacteria. The gradual destruction of the supporting bone that results from the untreated infection can lead to tooth loss.
The mildest form of gum disease, called gingivitis, can easily be treated, and reversed. Gingivitis affects only the gum tissue, without any damage to the supporting tissue such as the bone and ligaments. However, if gingivitis is not treated early on, it can progress to periodontitis – which is irreversible and affects both the gum and bone tissue.
Periodontal Disease Symptoms
Most people who have gingivitis or mild gum disease may overlook the earliest signs, since there is usually no pain or discomfort. The most common signs and symptoms of periodontal disease are:
- Red, swollen gums
- Bleeding gums, usually noted after tooth brushing or using dental floss
- Teeth loosening or teeth getting wobbly
- Gum recession
- Bad taste in the mouth and/or bad breath
Who is at risk for gum disease?
Not every individual who gets gingivitis (or mild gum disease) will experience severe gum problems (periodontitis). A mild form of gingivitis is common among a lot of individuals. The susceptibility to developing gum disease can be affected by hereditary factors – if there is a history of severe gum disease in your family, then you have a higher risk of developing gum problems as well. Other factors that increase the risk of gum disease development include stress, uncontrolled diabetes, and smoking cigarettes or tobacco.
Systemic problems are also associated with periodontal or gum disease.
Gum Disease Consultation
Your gum disease consultation starts with the dentist doing a thorough periodontal assessment, which helps determine the risk factors that can affect the positive outcome of the upcoming treatment. This assessment stage will also help you understand which risk factor contributed to the development of your specific periodontal concern.
The comprehensive periodontal examination includes an assessment of:
- Plaque retention factors
- Presence of tartar and plaque deposits
- Probing depths, using a six-point chart to determine recessions and bleeding distributions
An examination using radiography will follow the periodontal examination if the dentist sees further need to look at the bone quality underneath. The periodontal assessment is followed by the discussion of the results, the specific and overall teeth prognosis, and a diagnosis from the dentist or periodontist. You are encouraged to ask questions as a treatment plan to address your gum problem is explained in detail. The gum disease consultation aims to be completed with you having a clearer idea of what to expect from the treatment, as well as with the presentation of all the treatment options available for your periodontal disease.
Treatments and Procedures for Gum Disease
Instructions for Good Oral Hygiene – Before any periodontal treatment can start, you will be provided with personalised instructions on good oral hygiene habits. Your motivation to achieve and maintain good oral hygiene is the most important part of the periodontal treatment, as it can largely determine the success of the treatment to be undertaken. You will learn how to get the full benefits of proper tooth brushing, and the regular use of dental floss.
Professional Cleaning and Deep Root Cleaning – Gingivitis is addressed by a professional dental cleaning, which focuses on the area above the gum line. A deep root cleaning will be needed to address aggressive or chronic periodontitis, and can be carried out in two or four appointments depending on how deep the pockets are, and the number of affected teeth.
Surgical Periodontal Treatment – A surgical treatment is done when the periodontal problem cannot be solved even after being treated with deep root cleaning. To gain access to the area where the tartar and plaque deposits are located, the gums will need to be surgically lifted away from the bone tissue – making it easy for the plaque and tartar deposits to be removed. In some cases, the bone may need to be re-contoured, and some gum tissue removed, with a surgical periodontal treatment.
Graft Surgery – Specific materials used in graft surgery are shown to encourage periodontal regeneration. The material for the grafting procedure will be chosen following the fulfillment of certain criteria regarding the patient and the treatment site.
Crown Lengthening Treatment – To improve the appearance (shape and/or size) of the gums, a crown lengthening procedure can be done. This procedure is also used to make the teeth look bigger for proper restoration, by exposing more of the tooth structure.
Gums Recession Treatment – Receding gums cause the tooth roots to be exposed, and in turn results teeth that are sensitive to temperature changes such as that experienced when drinking hot or cold beverages. Receding gums also make the affected teeth more prone to tooth decay, and aesthetic issues. Covering the exposed tooth roots will be considered following a thorough evaluation by your dentist. A soft tissue graft or a synthetic graft with protein gel and specially-designed flaps, are some examples of a root coverage procedure to address gum recession.
Supportive Gum Care and Maintenance – A maintenance care program follows the completion of a periodontal disease treatment. This program aims to help you maintain long-term stable gum health, and is done with the collaboration of a dentist and a periodontist. The condition of your gum health, as well as your existing and treated gum issues, will determine the frequency of your visits to the dentist and/or periodontist.