Periodontal disease or ‘gum disease’ is the inflammation of the gums that affects the soft and hard tissues that support the teeth.
Gum disease is caused by plaque a sticky, colourless film of bacteria that builds up on the teeth, particularly at the necks of teeth where they meet the gums. If the plaque is not removed, the gums can become red, swollen, and can bleed easily. This is the first stage of Periodontal disease, known as gingivitis. When gingivitis is not treated, the gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called “pockets”) that become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.
Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, attacks the supporting tissues and bones around the tooth. The word ‘periodontal’ actually means ‘surrounding a tooth’. Gum disease is reasonably common, often present without your knowledge, can vary greatly in severity and is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. The disease has two stages beginning with gingivitis; being the first and less harmful stage of gum disease. As plaque, a form of bacteria, accumulates around your teeth and gum line, the bacteria begin to attack the soft supporting tissues – your gums. Common symptoms are red, sore and inflamed gums that may bleed during brushing and begin to recede along the tooth. Gingivitis can be easily treated. It is very important to halt gum disease at this stage. The next, more severe stage of gum disease is periodontitis. This is where the bacteria penetrate deeper into the gums, attacking the supporting ligament and bone structure that holds the tooth in place. If left untreated, tooth loss can occur. This damage cannot be reversed but can be treated to stop the progress of the disease. Almost all adults will suffer from gum disease at some stage in their lives. Prevention through early detection is the effective way to fight gum disease. Regular dental checkups and a thorough oral hygiene routine, including brushing and flossing daily, are important in the prevention and control of gum disease. If you notice puffy red gums, bad breath or bleeding when brushing and eating please contact our friendly team to organise a consultation.
The main goal of treatment is to control the infection. The number and types of treatment will vary, depending on the extent of the gum disease. Any type of treatment requires that the patient keep up good daily care at home. The dentist or hygienist may also suggest changing certain behaviours, such as quitting smoking, as a way to improve treatment outcome.
During a routine dental visit the dentist or hygienist: Check medical history to identify underlying conditions or risk factors (such as smoking) that may contribute to gum disease. Examine your gums and note any signs of inflammation. Use a tiny ruler called a ‘periodontal probe’ to check for and measure any pockets. In a healthy mouth, the depth of these pockets is usually between 1 and 3 millimeters. Take an x-ray to see whether there is any bone loss. Refer you to a periodontist if periodontal condition is moderate to severe and if the periodontal condition is not reacting well to treatment.
Studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.
Cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, which interfere with the body’s inflammatory system may worsen the condition of the gums
Poor nutrition and obesity
Compromise the body’s immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection. Because periodontal disease begins as an infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums
Oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health.
Stress is a risk factor for periodontal disease. Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases.
Clenching or grinding your teeth can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.
Genetics risk, research has indicated that some people may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be more likely to develop periodontal disease.