Gum disease or periodontal disease is the result of an infection, which has spread to the gums and tooth roots. If left untreated gum disease can cause tooth loss and affect the whole mouth.
If you believe that you are suffering with gum disease a skilled and trained periodonist will carry out a consultation to ascertain the severity of your problem. There are both surgical and non-surgical treatments for gum disease, which will be discussed during your consultation.
Definition of Periodontal disease
Periodontal disease is the next step along from gingivitis, which is the infection of the gums by bacteria. If left to develop gingivitis then becomes periodontal disease, which affects not only the gums but the tooth and bone structure. Periodontal disease can often cause severe and irreversible injury to the teeth and gums, so it is important to have any symptoms checked by your dentist.
Different types of Gum disease
Gum disease is a progressive condition and increases in severity the longer it is left untreated. The treatment of the disease will require different levels of care, with more complex cases requiring longer treatment times and higher costs.
Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease and the precursor to more complex problems. It is the inflammation of the gums and can include bleeding during oral health cleaning. Gingivitis can be reversed with the use of periodontal treatment and a good oral hygiene routine, but it is always best to visit your dentist if there is persistent gum bleeding and swelling.
Once gum disease has progressed from the gingivitis stage, it is then what is known as periodontitis. This type of gum disease comes in varied degrees that are dependent on its complexity. These forms of periodontitis include:
Aggressive periodontitis - this is often diagnosed in people who have generally good oral health, but have allowed symptoms of gingivitis to go untreated. The signs of aggressive periodontitis include an enlargement in the size of the gum pockets, which can affect the health of surrounding bone tissue.
Chronic periodontitis - this is the main form of gum disease and causes supporting tooth tissue to become inflamed. This can in turn lead to rapid bone loss and potential tooth loss. This type of gum disease needs immediate attention to stop it from spreading. Any signs of the disease, from bleeding gums to swollen gum tissue, should be checked immediately. If chronic periodontitis is left to develop patients often require gum surgery in the future.
Necrotizing periodontal disease - this is the most severe type of gum disease and results in the necrosis or death of the periodontal ligament, gingival tissues and alveolar bone. Necrotizing periodontal disease can require surgery, which is generally the only option for treatment.
Gum disease causes
The most common cause of gum disease is plaque, which forms as a clear film over the teeth and gums. The bacteria that causes this plaque attacks the gum tissue and tooth enamel, causing both gum disease and tooth decay. To prevent plaque from leading to gum disease, it is a good idea to maintain an effective oral hygiene routine. This should include brushing, flossing and using mouthwash.
Other causes of periodontitis include
Smoking - smoking has been found to be a cause of gum disease, which is mainly due to its impairment of the body's natural healing processes. Any bacterium that enters the gum and surrounding tissue is able to spread through the body, unheeded by the body's immune system, leading to the development of infections.
Genetics - a predisposition to gum disease is apparent in almost 30% of the population, and even with the correct level of dental health care, these persons can be up to six times more prone to contracting the disease. If you are at an augmented risk of gum disease, it is essential to visit your dentist regularly and have a thoroughly cleaning at least once a year, to prevent the development of any oral health related problems.
Pregnancy - during pregnancy the body undergoes numerous hormonal changes, which can increase a person's risk of developing gum disease. This change in the body's hormonal output can affect other areas of the boy, but most specifically the gums. During pregnancy it is essential to maintain a good level of oral hygiene.
Medication - anti-depressants, oral contraceptives and heart medications can all negatively impact the health of your teeth and gums. You should always tell your dentist about medication you are taking and any changes to the health of your gums in this time.
Tooth grinding - tooth grinding places extra force on the teeth and surrounding tissue, which can exacerbate oral health problem such as gum disease.
Diabetes - those who suffer with diabetes experience continual changes to their blood sugar levels, which can lead to a heightened risk of severe periodontal disease. Gum disease in connection with diabetes often requires gum surgery.
Poor diet - when the body is missing important nutrients or vitamins, it has a harder time fighting potentially harmful diseases. When the immune system is compromised due to poor nutrition, conditions such as periodontitis are allowed to develop unhindered and cause irreversible damage to the mouth.
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease
Monitoring the health of your gums and visiting a dentist could be the difference between moderate treatment and gum surgery. Signs and symptoms you should look out for and seek a dentist's advice for include:
- Bleeding gums when you floss or brush your teeth.
- Space that has recently formed between the teeth and increases.
- Swollen and tender gums.
- Receding gumline that makes the teeth look longer.
- Pus between the teeth.
- Mouth sores.
- Continual bad breath.
- Changes in how your teeth bite together.
How can you treat gum disease?
If gum disease is diagnosed in the early stages non-surgical treatments can be used to correct the problem. This may involve periodontal cleaning and a specific oral hygiene routine, but if the disease has been allowed to develop, surgery may be the most viable option.
Treatment for the early gingivitis stage of gum disease
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and can be treated using scaling and root planing. This involves thoroughly cleaning the surface of the roots to rid them of any bacteria or plaque. Once this has been completed antimicrobials are applied to destroy any bacteria that remain.
Treatment for advanced Periodontitis
Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gum disease and can require surgical procedures to treat. These procedures include:
- Regenerative procedures.
- Reduction of gum pockets.
- Lengthening of teeth using crowns.
- Gum tissue grafts.
If you have any worries about your gums and have noticed relevant symptoms, please get in touch with the practice to book an appointment.
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