Periodontal (gum) Disease

Periodontal or gum disease is an inflammatory disease that damages the supporting structures around your teeth. It can lead to bone loss around the teeth and in turn recession of the gums and teeth to become loose, move or in severe cases teeth can fall out.

There are two main types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gingivitis affects most people from time to time. The gums look red and swollen and often bleed when brushed. With improved cleaning the gums can heal with no permanent damage.

Periodontitis is different. In the early stages it resembles gingivitis but the difference is that even when cleaning is improved there is lasting damage to the supporting structures around the teeth. Periodontitis requires careful diagnosis and ongoing treatment to manage the disease and reduce the risk of further damage.

Who gets it?

We will all probably experience some gum disease at some stage in our life. By the age of 60 it is estimated that approximately 80% of the population will show some signs of periodontitis. However, it is important to remember that it is not just a disease of the older generation with the more aggressive forms of the disease often affecting people in their 20s or even younger.

The main cause of all forms of gum disease is dental plaque; the bacteria that builds up on your teeth throughout the day. We all react differently to this plaque and some people’s genetic make-up means they are more susceptible to the effects of these oral bacteria making them more likely to be diagnosed with gum disease. There are other risk factors which can make you more susceptible and these include smoking, diabetes and stress.

Can it be cured and how is it treated?

No, periodontal disease cannot be cured as we cannot change a person’s genetic susceptibility to the disease. However, it can be treated and controlled to limit further damage.

In most cases treatment is relatively straightforward and consists of a joint strategy between the patient and the treating dentist. Success is reliant upon you ensuring excellent daily cleaning and our thorough professional cleaning. 

The first step is to ensure that your daily cleaning regime is of an excellent standard. We will take the time to ensure that you are doing everything possible to control the plaque in your mouth, simply put, the correct use of toothbrushes, interdental brushes and floss. It is important to realise that this excellent standard oral hygiene needs to be. maintained for the rest of a patient’s life to reduce the risk of further damage.

Active treatment in the dental surgery consists of the meticulous removal of plaque and calculus (tartar) deposits in the mouth. Whilst similar to a ‘scale and polish’ this treatment is more involved and can take several visits. It is often performed under local anaesthetic to make the procedure more comfortable.

Occasionally we may advise more advanced treatments and in the most severe cases referral to a periodontal specialist.

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