Gum Disease

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Periodontal (Gum) Disease

The main cause of periodontal disease is bacteria in the form of either a sticky, colourless plaque (the layer the toothbrush can remove) that constantly forms on your teeth, or hard dark coloured deposits. However, many factors can cause periodontal disease, or influence its progression.

Your bone and gum tissue should fit snugly around your teeth like a turtleneck around your neck. When you have periodontal disease, this supporting tissue and bone is destroyed, forming “pockets” around the teeth.

Over time, these pockets become deeper, providing a larger space for bacteria to live. As bacteria develop around the teeth, they can accumulate and advance under the gum tissue. These deep pockets collect even more bacteria, resulting in further bone and tissue loss. Eventually, too much bone is lost, and the teeth need to be extracted.

There are several signs and symptoms that can indicate you may have gum disease, including the following:

  • Spontaneous bleeding gums
  • Bleeding gums when brushing your teeth
  • Red swollen, puffy gums (inflamed gums)
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Loose teeth and drifting teeth due to bone loss around the teeth
  • Shrinking gums (gum recession)
  • Teeth sensitivity to hot and cold due to gum recession

If you experience one or more of these signs or symptoms, please see your general dentist, and they will refer you to a Periodontist. At The Periodontists, we do not require a referral and can see you directly.

Gum disease (periodontitis) can affect anyone. Unfortunately, no one is immune. Research has found that gum disease is more common in adults, as the periodontal bacteria requires time to establish itself before taking effect. The severity of gum disease can vary considerably, and many factors, such as genetics, some medications, and lifestyle choices, contribute to this.

Other prime candidates for gum disease are people with uncontrolled diabetes and smokers.

Gum disease cannot be cured, however, it can be managed with good periodontal treatment, patient education, and diligent home care by the patient. The severity of the gum disease will dictate what initial periodontal treatment is required. We cannot diagnose and plan gum disease treatment without a periodontal analysis (measuring your gum levels), which includes a large x-ray of your smile called an OPG.

The initial treatments recommended due to the severity of gum disease include:

  • Mild cases: Plaque control advice along with a scale and clean.
  • Moderate cases: Root Planning (we refer to it as Non-surgical Periodontal Debridement). This is also what people refer to as a “Deep Clean.”
  • Severe cases: Flap Access Surgery (we refer to it as Surgical Periodontal Debridement).

Following your initial periodontal treatment (as noted above), your gum disease will be managed at home by you and at routine visits for periodontal maintenance every three to six months, depending on severity, with the dental hygienist. It is important to note that periodontal maintenance is a more thorough cleaning given the associated gum disease than scale and cleans at your general dentist. You will also see the periodontist every two years for a new periodontal analysis to ensure your gum disease is maintained with no signs of regression. If we find regression in your gum health, we revisit patient home care and education, and we may need to consider different treatment options.

You cannot manage gum disease by yourself. Once you develop gum disease (periodontal disease), you will need to see a periodontist or dentist to help manage the condition efficiently. Gum disease worsens over time as the issue is located well below the gum line. Unfortunately, and depending on the severity, some general dentists do not have the relevant tools and skills to treat gum disease effectively. Therefore, collaboration between the general dentist, periodontist, and you is crucial to help treat and prevent gum disease.

To help prevent gum disease and other oral hygiene problems, you must follow oral hygiene instructions provided by any dental professional/specialist. This usually involves diligent home care with tooth brushing and flossing, including interdental brushing, mouth rinses, denture care, and healthy lifestyle choices. In addition, regular visits to your dentist are extremely important in maintaining dental and gum health in general. They allow the detection and management of teeth and gum problems before they become worse.

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Periodontal Treatment

Periodontal treatment aims at removing the bacteria present around the teeth in the form of plaque and tartar, to create an environment that is conducive to gum healing and re-attachment of the gum tissues to the teeth. This treatment can be done either surgically or non-surgically, depending on how advanced the gum disease is and the individual circumstance and needs of each patient.

Related Services

Surgical Periodontal Treatment

Non-Surgical Periodontal Treatment

Gum Maintenance for Oral Health

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