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Periodontal Treatment and Gum Disease

Swollen and bleeding gums are early signs that your gums are infected with bacteria. If nothing is done, the infection can spread. It can destroy the structures that support your teeth in your jawbone. Eventually, your teeth can become so loose that they have to be extracted.

What is Gum disease?

Gum disease is a common complaint and is caused by bacteria that lives inside your mouth. These bacteria attach to the teeth and irritate the gums. The early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. Early warning signs of gum disease are bleeding when you brush your teeth and bad breath.

Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease. The gums become red and swollen (inflamed), so if you notice bleeding when you brush your teeth it is important to see a specialist to prevent get treatment.

Early Signs of Gingivitis:

  • Inflamed Gums
  • Bad breath that won’t go away
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Receding gums or longer appearing teeth

It is vital to have regular dental checks as gum disease is not always painful. Regular hygienist appointment can minimise your risk by removing the build up of harmful plaque.

Untreated gingivitis can develop into a more destructive form of gum disease known as Periodontitis. Periodontitis can lead to the gums detaching from the teeth to form what dentist call ‘pockets’, which attract even more bacteria and can cause bone loss, tooth loosening, and eventually teeth loss.

Did you know gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss?

Recent Adult Dental Health Survey showed:

  • 83% of adults with teeth had signs of gum disease
  • Around 6% of people surveyed had lost all of their teeth
  • Around 13% of people surveyed had lost at least one tooth

Will my gum disease affect my health?

Research has shown there is a relationship between your gum health and general health.

  • Atherosclerosis and heart disease — Gum disease may increase the risk of clogged arteries and heart disease. It also is believed to worsen existing heart disease.
  • Stroke — Gum disease may increase the risk of the type of stroke that is caused by blocked arteries.
  • Premature births — a woman who has gum disease during pregnancy may be more likely to deliver her baby too early. The infant may be more likely to be of low birth weight.
  • Diabetes — Diabetic patients with periodontal disease may have more trouble controlling their blood sugar than diabetic patients with healthy gums.
  • Respiratory disease — Bacteria involved in gum disease may cause lung infections or worsen existing lung conditions. This is particularly important for elderly adults in institutions such as nursing homes. In this group, bacteria from the mouth may reach the lungs and may cause severe pneumonia.

Therefore, managing gum disease may also help with the management of other health conditions.

Gum Disease Risk Factors

  • Smoking. Need another reason to quit smoking? Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of gum disease. Additionally, smoking can lower the chances for successful treatment.
  • Hormonal changes in girls/women. These changes can make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
  • Diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including gum disease.
  • Other illnesses and their treatments. Diseases such as AIDS and its treatments can also negatively affect the health of gums, as can treatments for cancer.
  • Medications. There are hundreds of prescription and over the counter medications that can reduce the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on the mouth. Without enough saliva, the mouth is vulnerable to infections such as gum disease. And some medicines can cause abnormal overgrowth of the gum tissue; this can make it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean.
  • Genetic susceptibility. Some people are more prone to severe gum disease than others.
  • Misaligned or crowded teeth, braces or bridgework. Anything that makes it more difficult to brush or floss your teeth is likely to enhance plaque and tartar formation. The more plaque and tartar you have, the greater your chance of developing gum disease. Dentists and periodontists can show you the best ways to clean your teeth, even if they are hard to clean. For example, you can use special tools and ways of threading floss to clean around bridgework or slide under braces. If overcrowded or crooked teeth are a problem, your dentist might recommend orthodontics. This could straighten out your smile and give you a better chance of preventing disease.
  • Grinding, gritting or clenching of teeth. These habits will not cause periodontal disease. However, they can lead to more severe disease if your gums are already inflamed. These habits exert excess force on the teeth. This pressure appears to speed up the breakdown of the periodontal ligament and bone. In many cases, people can learn to stop this habit simply by recognizing when it is happening and then relaxing. If these efforts do not work, your dentist or periodontist can create a custom guard appliance to help reduce the pressure of clenching or grinding on the teeth. This device is called an occlusal guard, night guard, mouth guard or bite guard.
  • Stress — Stress can make periodontal disease worse and harder to treat. Stress weakens your body’s immune system. This makes it harder for your body to fight off infection, including periodontal disease.
  • Poor nutrition — Nutrition is important for overall good health, including a working immune system and healthy gums and mouth. Severe vitamin C deficiency (scurvy) can cause bleeding gums.

How do I know if I have gum disease?

You may notice your gums bleeding whilst brushing or flossing your teeth, or have bad breath. Your gums may have receded making your teeth look longer which can lead to temperature sensitivity. In some cases, your teeth might feel wobbly. If you have any of these signs you should contact your our periodontist to check your gums.

Do I need a referral from a general dentist?

No, you can contact us directly. You will probably need a consultation appointment first to discuss your problem. We usually have appointments available within two days and if you are in severe pain we will always make your case a priority.

What will happen at my consultation appointment with the Periodontist?

Your first visit will be a consultation. This will involve the Periodontist taking a detailed history of your complaint followed by a thorough examination of your gums. It may be necessary to take some X-rays of certain teeth. Your consultation lasts between 30 minutes and usually, no treatment will be carried out at this appointment. We will also instruct you on the best methods to clean your teeth and gums as treatment will be more effective if you clean your teeth carefully on a daily basis.

How can I treat my gum disease?

Your initial periodontal treatment aims to remove the calculus (tartar) from within the pockets below the gum line (root surface debridement). This involves the careful use of finely powered hand operated cleaning instruments against the surfaces of the specific tooth. To reduce any discomfort during your treatment we use a local anesthetic to numb your gums. There are also surgical options to manage your gum disease should root surface debridement alone not be sufficient. In some cases where a prognosis for a tooth is extremely poor, extraction may be advised.

How many appointments will I need?

Periodontal treatment is usually carried out over several appointments. The number of appointments you will need depends on the severity and extent of your gum disease. If you have a more aggressive form of gum disease you may also benefit from a short course of antibiotics alongside or after your treatment.

What will happen if I do not seek any treatment?

If left untreated, the pockets may deepen and the bone loss can progress. This may lead to teeth feeling loose, repeated gum infections, and eventual loss of teeth.

What are the benefits of having periodontal treatment?

After periodontal treatment, your gums will become healthier, which will help you keep your teeth longer. Improvements will depend on how good you clean your teeth and the initial extent of your gum disease. If before the treatment your gums bleed or are swollen, this should improve. You may also notice your breath feeling much fresher.

Top tips to prevent gum disease

  • Visit our dentist regularly for check-ups and teeth cleaning so any issues with your gums can be picked up early
  • Brush your teeth twice daily
  • Clean in between your teeth with floss or interdental brushes paying special attention to the back teeth
  • Do not stop brushing or flossing if your gums bleed
  • If you smoke, try and stop as there is a link between smoking and gum disease
  • Let our specialist know about any medical conditions you have as they can assess if your condition might prevent your body from fighting gum disease and make recommendations

If you think you have gums disease, please contact us here. Our specialists will be more than happy to provide you with FREE consultation via the phone and book you in for an initial assessment.