Gum Disease Sore Gums Periodontics
What is periodontal gum disease?
The word "periodontal" literally means around the tooth. Periodontal diseases, also known as gum disease, are chronic bacterial infections that can damage the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss. The main cause of periodontal disease is bacteria and toxins in dental plaque, a sticky colorless film that constantly forms on the teeth. Plaque buildup can lead to the earliest and mildest form of the disease, gingivitis. During this stage, gum tissue can swell, turn red and bleed easily, causing little or no discomfort. Gingivitis is reversible with professional, treatment and good at home oral hygiene without this care, you put yourself at risk for more severe forms of periodontal disease.
Causes of periodontal gum disease.
Gum disease (gingivitis) and periodontitis can be caused by a variety of factors, but the most common cause is ineffective oral hygiene, which leads to a build-up of plaque. Plaque is a soft, sticky substance that is made when bacteria collect on the surface of your teeth.
Your mouth is full of millions of tiny bacteria. When you consume food and drink that are high in carbohydrates, such as sugary foods or drinks, the bacteria break the carbohydrates down into acid. The acid then combines with the bacteria, the saliva in your mouth and the small particles of food that are left after brushing, to produce a sticky film called plaque.
Plaque can be easily removed by brushing your teeth 2-3 times per day and flossing once per day. Sometimes, when plaque is not removed, it can harden and form another substance, known as tartar. Tartar sticks much more firmly to teeth than plaque, and can usually only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist.
Ineffective oral hygiene can lead to a build-up of plaque and tartar on your teeth. When this happens, the bacteria can cause sore gums and inflamed (swollen) gums, leading to gum disease. If gum disease is not treated and the plaque and tartar continue to build up, you may develop periodontitis. This can cause your teeth to become loose or even fall out.
Risk factors for gum disease and periodontitis.
Factors that can increase your risk of developing gum disease and periodontitis include:
- diabetes (a long-term condition caused by too much glucose in the blood)
- having a weakened immune system, such as AIDS, or chemotherapy
How do I know if I have gum disease?
The signs and symptoms of periodontal gum disease can be difficult for a patient to detect, but may include:
- Bleeding gums
- Loose teeth
- New spacing between teeth
- Pus around the teeth and gums
- Receding gums
- Red and puffy gums
- Sore gums
How is periodontal gum disease detected?
First, you will have a comprehensive periodontal evaluation with Dr. Biggs to assess how your teeth are affected by periodontal disease. This will include gentle measurements on your gums and x-ray examinations. You will receive information about how gum disease develops, which factors may contribute to it in your case and what you can do to get actively involved in the treatment. We will also make a note of your specific expectations and preferences. Following this, we will be able to provide you with a detailed written report, proposed treatment plan and estimate detailing the timescale and cost of treatment. In advanced cases which include planning for replacement of missing teeth, further planning appointments may be required to be able to provide a definitive treatment plan.
Who gets periodontal gum disease?
15% of the population are highly susceptible to developing destructive gum disease, whilst another 15% are highly resistant. The remaining 70% of the population have the potential to develop destructive gum disease. By the age of 40 around 70% of the population has some stage of the disease. The factors below are the most common seen in patients with gum disease. However, we often see people with few of the causative factors who still have advanced disease. This is why regular follow-up visits with the dentist and the hygienist are so important.
- Poor nutrition
- Other systemic diseases
Smoking and Periodontal Gum Disease.
Smoking has been identified as a true risk factor for periodontal disease. Smokers tend to have more severe tissue destruction and lose more teeth as a result of periodontal disease than non-smokers. We also know that periodontal therapy works better in non-smokers than in smokers and that smokers are at significantly higher risk of experiencing further periods of disease progression later in life, even after previously successful periodontal treatment. Stopping smoking will be extremely beneficial for achieving and maintaining gum health and keeping your teeth in the long term. Please consider stopping smoking or even just reducing your daily tobacco consumption as part of getting started on your way to healthy and beautiful teeth and gums. Of course, your general health will benefit hugely from this, too, and so we do hope that you will give this some thought.
How is periodontal gum disease treated?
The initial phase of therapy is aimed at arresting disease, resolving inflammation and reducing number and depths of pockets. A meticulous deep cleaning of the gums will be performed using a local anaesthetic one section of the mouth at a time. We will also suggest some minor modifications to your home care, since your own cleaning is of fundamental importance in achieving periodontal (gum) health. We use ultrasonic equipment which causes minimal trauma to the gums and replaces the main part of traditional `scraping' with sonic scaling.
Treatment can result in a small amount of discomfort and slight increase in sensitivity which usually lasts only a short time. You may also notice a slight increase in recession of the gums as the swollen and inflamed tissues heal. This shrinkage of the tissues may show in form of longer teeth or so called "black triangles" between your teeth. We will explain to you how much this shrinkage would affect your personal situation.
For many patients deep cleaning in conjunction with the appropriate maintenance care will be sufficient to control the disease. However, in advanced cases of periodontal disease with a large number of deep pockets, the improvement after deep cleaning alone may not be enough. A second phase of therapy may include antibiotic therapy or minor surgery to gain access to deep areas for cleaning and reshaping.
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