Periodontal Disease

Between your teeth and gums there is a small “V” shaped space known as the sulcus. Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection that affects this space and causes the breakdown of the tissues that support your teeth.

About Gum Disease

What Are the Risk Factors for Gum Disease?

Well known risk factors for periodontitis include genetics, stress, avoiding the dentist, no brushing or flossing, and some medical conditions. Smokers are significantly more likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers. It's not just about your teeth anymore - gum disease has been linked to numerous health problems, with new studies emerging all the time linking oral and overall health.

Gum disease begins when a film called plaque accumulates on the teeth and calcium from saliva hardens the plaque - this calcified plaque is called tartar or calculus. Certain types of germs that live in this plaque and calculus damage gum tissue. Your body tries to fight this infection with an inflammatory attack, sending white blood cells to the area to destroy the bacteria. This inflammation causes the tissue to bleed easily when you brush or floss. This stage of the condition is called gingivitis.

If the infection and inflammation persist the result is a chronic inflammatory condition where the gums, ligament and bone around the teeth are destroyed - often with no symptoms. At this stage it is called periodontitis.

Signs/Symptoms of Moderate-Advanced Gum Disease Include:

  • Gums that are red, swollen, and bleed easily
  • Gums that seem to have pulled away from the teeth
  • Bad breath or halitosis
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Teeth that seem to be loose or moving away from one another
  • Change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Change in the way your partial denture or implant-supported restorations fit
  • Or no symptoms at all!

If the infection only affects your gums, it is gingivitis, however if the infection is affecting the tooth root ligaments and connective tissues, it is referred to as periodontitis.

Gingivitis is one of several periodontal diseases and is a bacterial caused by inflammation of the gums, surrounding soft tissue and bone, made noticeable through red, swollen and bleeding gums.

Your oral hygiene plays an integral role in your overall health. Gingivitis can lead to periodontitis and is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. Gum disease has also been linked to other serious health problems including high blood pressure, cardio vascular disease, stroke, diabetes, an increased risk of heart disease, and some research suggests a correlation between pre-term and low birth weights.

A philosophy of early detection and intervention and minimal interference is the primary objective of preventive dentistry. By detecting potential problems in their very early stages, our team can help you avoid the need for more extensive procedures, which would be highly probable if problems were left unchecked.

Periodontal disease often progresses slowly, without pain, and over a long period of time. The longer it goes undetected and uncontrolled, the more damage it causes to gums and other supporting tissues.

Incorporating regular oral health checks as part of your continuous healthcare and adopting a simple yet regular oral hygiene routine of brushing twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, and flossing once a day, will significantly reduce the development of gum disease and help keep your natural teeth for life.

ASSOCIATED PROBLEMS

RECEDING GUMS

There are two main causes of receding gums, one may be forceful brushing techniques where the thin gum tissue is damaged from scrubbing or use of a hard bristled toothbrush. The other is gum disease, causing inflammation, which damages the gums. Once your gum tissue has been lost from the root surface, it will not usually grow back. It may be possible in some cases to graft gum tissue from other areas of your mouth to cover the defect, however this may not always be possible.

POCKETS

When teeth are affected by gum disease, your gums can move away from the tooth and create an opening known as a pocket, which can allow food to accumulate and bacteria to develop and spread to other areas of your mouth. As a consequence, the pocket can become deeper and result in jawbone deterioration. 

BAD BREATH

Known as halitosis, many people who have bad breath may not even realise. For most people, bad breath is the result of strong odour foods like garlic, onions and cheese being the most well known causes, but some vegetables, spices, soft drinks and orange juice may also contribute to bad breath. After these foods are digested and the oils absorbed into your bloodstream, they are carried to your lungs and exhaled in your breath until they are eliminated from your body. However, with these foods the symptoms are often only temporary.

An inadequate dental hygiene routine of not brushing effectively twice a day, as well as neglecting to floss, can lead to bad breath as food particles caught between your teeth are not removed, and begin to breakdown. These food particles attract bacteria, elevating plaque levels on your teeth, which in turn is another cause bad breath.

Scheduling regular oral hygiene check-ups with our hygienist to remove plaque build up, and developing an effective oral hygiene routine will reduce the embarrassment caused through having bad breath. Severe cases may need to be referred to a GP.

BLEEDING GUMS

One of the first signs of periodontal disease is when your gums become red, swollen, and bleed while brushing and flossing. Inflammation of your gums may not always be painful, however if left untreated, may result in severe discomfort and lead to the formation of an abscess.

LOOSE TEETH

Periodontal disease affects the bone around the tooth root and the surrounding connective tissue. Your teeth may become sensitive to heat and cold, and some patients may experience pain when brushing. As periodontal disease advances, gum pockets deepen and your teeth become loose, in extreme cases tooth removal may be required to prevent the disease from spreading.

PLAQUE, CALCULUS/TARTAR

Plaque is a clear sticky film consisting of bacteria that adheres to the surface of your teeth. Regular brushing and flossing will reduce plaque build-up. When plaque is not removed it becomes hard and is known as calculus, which cannot be removed by brushing and flossing. Calculus can only be removed professionally with specially designed dental instruments in a process known as root planing and scaling. 

ORAL HYGIENE

The importance of good oral hygiene cannot be over-emphasised. It is through a regular routine of brushing effectively twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, and flossing once a day, can you significantly reduce the likelihood and seriousness of gum disease, and in turn reduce the possible development of other major health concerns.

REGULAR VISITS

Through regular periodontal support care appointments, at intervals customised for each individual patient, Periodontal disease can be controlled and teeth maintained indefinitely.  Any signs of deterioration can be detected early and appropriate intervention recommended.  Our goal is to do the least amount of dentistry, to provide the maximum possible benefit, and ongoing professional support is fundamental to this.