Early gum disease is called gingivitis and affects over 75% of the population. It is caused by a sticky film called plaque which is made up of millions of bacteria. These bacteria produce acids and toxins which cause the gums to swell up and bleed easily, known as inflammation. At this stage the infection is reversible.
In about half of all cases this disease progresses onto become periodontitis. As the bacteria destroys the tissues holding the tooth and gum together the body produces enzymes, which further cause destruction of these tissues and the bone supporting the teeth, if left untreated eventually the teeth become loose and fall out.
This disease and infection is also related to other infections within the body such as heart disease, diabetes, lung infections and can lead to pre-term babies and strokes.
Gum disease is usually painless although there are some signs that you can watch out for:
• Gums that bleed when you brush
• Red, swollen or tender gums
• Bad breath or unpleasant taste in your mouth
• Receding gums
• Teeth moving position or drifting
Gum disease is treated in a team effort between the patient, dentist and hygienist. Initially the dentist will carry out an examination and x-rays to assess the damage to the bone levels hidden under the gum. After this the hygienist will assess your homecare routine and see how you can work together to improve this to make sure you remove the plaque from every surface of every tooth every time you brush and floss, this is important to make sure the plaque doesn’t re-infect the pockets after treatment.
The hygienist will make a special chart to show how deep each pocket is around the tooth and create a map of where the deep scaling is needed. Some people may need to have anaesthesia for treatment; we can deliver this painlessly using the Wand.
Special instruments are then used to clean the pocket areas where the tooth and gum have separated; in some cases we may also use the BioLase. This allows the body to heal and in most cases, about 70% of cases, the pockets begin to close up over a period of weeks.
Things that make gum disease worse include smoking, diabetes, stress, genetics, immune-deficiencies, hormones and having a poor diet, we can advise on all of these to help you to achieve dental health.