Gum Disease (Periodontitis)

Gum disease is a bacterial infection of the supporting structures of the teeth such as the gums and bone that results in inflammation, loss of attachment of the gums and bone to the teeth, and eventually tooth loss. Gum disease has many risk factors such as genetics, smoking and poor oral hygiene. Treatment of gum disease is an important part of general dentistry.

Treatments of Gum Disease

If teeth are the house, then the gums and bone are the foundations. Left unchecked, gum disease progression can be the subsidence that slides your waterfront mansion into the ocean.

Gum (Periodontal) diseases are caused by bacterial infections that attack gums, ligaments and bone.

Gum disease ranges from Gingivitis; which is inflammation of the gums, to aggressive periodontitis; which is destruction the bone, ligaments and gums leading to tooth loss.

The symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food

  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before

  • Loose or separating teeth

  • Pus between your gums and teeth

  • Sores in your mouth

  • Persistent bad breath

  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite However the disease is often painless, and may develop slowly or progress quite rapidly and can occur at any age.  Unless you have regular dental checkups, you may not be aware you have a problem until your gums and bone have been seriously compromised.
    Diagnosis is by a combination of:

  • Periodontal Charting and Analysis – using a specialised probe.  Gum pockets greater than 3mm usually indicate disease.

  • Clinical – areas of Pus and bleeding will be recorded.

  • Close up X-rays – show bone levels and areas of bone loss.

  • A Panoramic X-ray gives an excellent overview of the disease situation.

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  • Close-up Photographs – to record colour, texture and position of gums.
    This x-ray was taken of a new patient in October 2017 who complained only of a mild awareness that the tooth was wobble.
    The x ray shows complete bone loss around this upper tooth. Unfortunately there is no other treatment but to extract this tooth.

Prevention

Prevention of gum disease can be as simple as adhering to a self-care oral hygiene regime; including Tooth-brushing, flossing, use of tailored oral hygiene products, and in some instances antibacterial mouthrinses.

Risk factors for an increased likelihood of developing periodontitis include smoking, diabetes and other systemic illness, certain oral bacteria, family history and age. Whilst some of these we can’t control, the ones we can need to be modified!

Treatment

As periodontal disease is a bacterial disease, the aim of treatment is to mechanically remove the toxin producing bacteria from along and below the gumline, as well as off the root surfaces of the teeth.

Depending on the severity of the disease treatment might include a deep cleaning using ultrasonic and hand scalers under local anaesthetic in one or more appointments. An antibacterial gel and or mouthrinse may be used during and after the deep cleaning.

In severe cases we refer to our trusted specialists, who are known as periodontists.

All treatment is carried out in conjunction with tailored at-home oral care routines and oral hygiene products to help keep the bacteria at bay.

Periodontitis cannot be cured, but it can be controlled.

FAQ

As gum disease may not be painful, the first signs may be bleeding gums. Sometimes you might notice a bad taste, some recession of the gumline, and a loss of the pink triangular bit of gum between the teeth.

The general population should have their teeth cleaned every 6 months, whilst patients with periodontitis may need a proper deeper clean every 3 months depending on severity.

A periodontist is the specialist who treats referred gum disease. At Pymble Dental practice we are proud to have great relationships with a number of well regarded specialists, who can take over the more advanced diseases.

Short answer no; however with proper at home maintenance it can be stopped.

Modify the risk factors, such as flossing daily, brushing, quitting smoking, controlling diabetes when applicable. Regular dental checks are a must.