Gum diseases are infections of the gum that range from mild inflammations of the gums (gingivitis) to major damage of the bone and tissues supporting your teeth (periodontitis).
Gum disease treatments range from non-surgical deep cleaning, to flap surgery or bone and tissue grafts. Healthy gums are essential for your overall health because gum infections may be related to other diseases like heart disease, diabetes and tooth root infection.
If you experience bleeding, pain or swelling in your gums, don’t delay seeing your dentist as a minor case of gingivitis can lead to a major case of periodontitis. In worst cases, you may even lose your teeth.
Our mouths are full of bacteria, even after brushing and flossing. This is why it is important to brush and floss regularly to prevent bacteria from accumulating further. The bacteria, food debris and saliva form plaque, a sticky, colourless substance on your teeth. While brushing and flossing help remove plaque, plaque that is not removed hardens and forms tartar that can only be removed via professional cleaning by a dentist.
Gingivitis occurs when bacteria causes your gums to become red, swollen and bleed while brushing. Inflammarion is your body’s natural response to these bacteria and their toxins. The good news is that gingivitis is a milder form of gum disease that can usually be treated by observing daily dental hygiene and by regular cleaning by your dentist. Simple gingivitis does not usually result in any loss of bone and tissue that hold your teeth in place.
If gingivitis is left untreated, the plaque build-up hardens and causes your gum to detach from the tooth. This forms a ‘pocket’ between the tooth and gum, encouraging further plaque build-up in these infected pockets. The hardened plaque slowly destroys your bone and periodontal ligaments, which are responsible for supporting your teeth. Your teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.
Healthy gums are pink in colour with no redness, inflammation or tenderness. They do not bleed while brushing.
If you experience some or all of the following symptoms, you may have gingivitis:
Periodontitis includes the symptoms of gingivitis and also some, or all, of the following symptoms:
Some medical conditions or habits can increase your chances of having gum disease:
Smoking not only makes you prone to gum disease, but also worsens it, and makes recovery more difficult.
Patients with systemic medical conditions like diabetes, HIV and other immunological diseases have higher risks of developing infections like gum disease and they recover more slowly from it.
Medications can affect gum disease treatments. Some medications that are used to control high blood pressure or epilepsy can cause gum overgrowth, affecting dental treatment.
Pregnancy – normal hormonal levels change significantly in pregnant woman. Some women experience significant gum bleeding and are very prone to developing gum disease.
Plaque retentive factors – certain dental procedures and tooth anatomy can result in you being more prone to gum disease.
Genetics – if you have a family history of gum disease, you may be more prone to developing it.
Depending on the extent of your gum disease and how long you have waited to seek treatment, different treatment options will be available to you. We will strive to provide you with the most appropriate treatment for your condition.
During the first appointment, your dentist will do a basic periodontal examination to check your gums. Your dentist will also gently probe around your teeth using a special probe to check on the depth of your ‘pockets’ (distance between your teeth and gums). If necessary, your dentist may also take an x-ray to look for any bone loss. These initial examinations will determine what treatment is most suitable for you.
Further treatment will vary depending on the extent of the gum disease, and will include options such as medication, non-surgical deep cleaning treatments and surgical treatments.
If your gum disease is mild or moderate, a non-surgical, deep-cleaning technique called root planing may be sufficient. During this procedure, your dentist will numb the gum under local anaesthetic, then the plaque and tartar will be scraped off from above and below the gum line. This will provide a clean surface for the gums to reattach to the teeth.
If you have localised gum disease in one part of your mouth, root planing can be done in just that area. For more generalised gum disease where most of your mouth is affected, your dentist will typically work on a quarter to half of your mouth at one time, meaning two to four visits may be necessary to complete the treatment.
Each case is different and success of treatment depends on many factors such as the severity of the disease; the extent of bone and tissue loss; how well you observe dental hygiene at home; and risks factors such as smoking. Furthermore, periodontal surgery is not an absolute ‘cure-all’ as the potential for the recurrence of gum disease remains, particularly if you don’t observe good daily dental hygiene practices.
Sometimes, if you suffer from severe gum disease, surgical treatments may be required. Our dentists will assess how severe your gum disease is and may refer you to see a Periodontist, who is a dental specialist specialising in gum disease and surgical treatments.
After the root planing procedure, the ‘pockets’ will heal and shrink but one side effect of the treatment is that your gums may become less prominent or recede. Due to gum recession, some of the tooth root may be exposed, making your teeth more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures and root cavities may be more likely to occur.
Mild to moderate discomfort may be experienced for a few days after treatment and can usually be managed by anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, pain medication and antibacterial rinses.
You may experience tenderness and increased tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures for a few days after the treatment. Tenderness can be reduced by warm saltwater rinses or any dental rinses recommended by your dentist. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water regularly, for about three to five times a day for the first day, will also help to flush out any debris loosened by the treatment. Normal brushing and flossing should continue but with gentle brushing around the treated area. Minor bleeding is normal but should stop in one to two days.
Contact your dentist if you experience any unusual symptoms following treatment such as bleeding that won’t stop after applying pressure for 1 hour or excessive pain, swelling and bruising.
Remember, your commitment to long term good oral hygiene at home is just as important! Brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once a day to remove plaque, before bacteria builds up and hardens into tartar. Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and professional cleaning to ensure that any potential gingivitis does not progress to become periodontitis requiring complex surgery or worse, the loss of your teeth.
Antibiotic treatments can be used in addition to root planing to treat gum abscesses or if there has been a poor response to other conventional treatments.
Sometimes your dentist may prescribe an antibacterial mouthrinses. Not all mouthrinses on the market are suitable for you, so it is important to consult your dentist to get maximum benefit from your mouthrinse!
Your oral health is important for your overall bodily health. There have been numerous studies suggesting links between gum disease and heart disease. The risks of getting both diseases are increased by similar risk factors like smoking, diabetes and age. While a definite link is not yet entirely proven, if you have periodontitis, you are 50% more likely to suffer some heart disease and vice versa. Periodontal disease increases inflammation throughout the body and inflammation is a major risk factor for heart disease.
Diabetic patients with gum disease may also have more difficulty controlling their blood sugar levels than patients with healthy gums. The bacteria involved in gum disease may also worsen lung conditions and infections.
Gum disease also affects other aspects of your oral health. Due to exposed tooth roots from periodontitis, you will be more prone to root infection and your risks of needing root canal treatment may become higher.
Healthy gums are crucial to a healthy life. Contact us today to find out how to improve your oral health.
For more information of gum disease, you can visit: http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/conditions/gum-disease/article/what-is-periodontal-disease