Periodontal diseases (gum diseases).
Periodontal (gum) diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis, are infections that if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss, yet most people don’t experience pain with the condition – stressing the importance of regular dental check-ups. Chiswell Green offers specialist periodontal care, both for our own patients and those referred to us by other dentists.
The word periodontal literally means “around the tooth”. Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth.
Periodontal disease is primarily caused by plaque. Plaque is a collection of germs (bacteria), which grows around teeth. This collection of germs release toxins that lead to inflammation of the gums. Plaque then burrows underneath the gums and creates a space between the teeth and gums. This space is called a pocket. Once the plaque is inside the pocket it causes further inflammation. This inflammation leads to gradual bone loss around the teeth. The bone loss is irreversible and can lead to eventual tooth loss. This process is known as periodontitis.
Other factors also affect the health of your gums including:
- Tobacco smoking: smoking plays a very important part in the progression of periodontitis. Also, healing following treatment may take more time.
- Family history/genetic susceptibility: certain periodontal diseases can be aggressive and there is sometimes a family history.
- Diabetes: periodontal disease is often more severe in uncontrolled diabetics.
- Stress: stress influences the rate at which periodontitis progresses.
- Others: pregnancy, puberty and some medications.
Signs of periodontal disease
Periodontal disease usually progresses with few obvious signs and symptoms. The following are the most common symptoms of periodontal diseases:
- Bleeding gums during brushing
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Loose and mobile teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Bad taste
- A change in the way teeth fit together when you bite
You may have periodontal disease and not have any of these symptoms.
Most people don’t experience pain with periodontal disease.
Gum disease treatment
Your usual dentist may give you advice and simple periodontal treatment. If your periodontal disease is advanced or complicated your dentist can refer you to a specialist periodontist such as us here at Chiswell Green Dental Centre.
A periodontist is an expert in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of periodontal disease and in the placement of dental implants.
During the periodontal examination your periodontist will thoroughly examine your teeth and gums and take radiographs (x-rays) and photographs of your teeth to check the status of your gums and teeth. A report will be forwarded to your dentist and you will receive a copy of the report. This report will give details of any further treatment required such as specialist dental implants to reduce the effects and damage caused by periodontitis.
3. I don’t have pain or any other problems with my gums. How do I know I have it?
In the main, gum disease is painless. Your dentist or hygienist will be able to detect whether or not you have gum disease by probing your gums to take measurements at your regular check-up appointments. Bleeding gums are a sign that you may have a problem. In later stages of the disease you may notice swelling in the gums, loose teeth or increasing spaces between your teeth.
4. Is there a cure?
There is no cure for periodontitis. The bone that has been lost around the teeth cannot be regrown in most circumstances. However, it is possible to halt progression of further bone loss with treatment.
5. I have been seeing the hygienist regularly. Do I still need to see a Periodontist?
A hygienist plays a vital role in preventing gum disease and maintaining gum health. They are able to manage many mild forms of gums disease. More severe forms of gums disease as well as diseases that have not responded to repeated treatment from the hygienist are recommended to be managed by Periodontists. They may require more complex management (that a hygienist has not been trained to provide) in order to help prevent tooth loss.
6. What will happen if I choose not to see a Periodontist?
Studies suggest that if left untreated, loss of tooth support will continue with the ultimate outcome being tooth loss. During the ‘end’ stages of the disease, teeth may become too loose to be able to chew comfortably and multiple gum abscesses may arise. Patients with gum disease that do not have treatment tend to lose bone and teeth much faster than those that have received treatment. The presence of active gum disease is also a contraindication to having other dental treatments such as crowns, bridges, veneers, implants and braces. Therefore achieving healthy gums is vital to maintaining your teeth as well as allowing other treatments to be provided.