T.G.I.F (Thank God I Floss)
So most of us have heard about gum disease or gingivitis, but what is periodontal disease or periodontitis?
Periodontal disease is the inflammation of the periodontal tissues that support the teeth including the gums, periodontal ligament and the alveolar bone.
Periodontal disease is caused by the bacteria that is present in plaque. If plaque is left on the teeth undisturbed for several days it can harden and turn into what we call calculus. A combination of plaque and calculus being left on the tooth surface can cause the gums to swell and start to bleed. This is beginning of gum disease which is a precursor to periodontal disease and if left untreated it can eventually lead to tooth loss. In most cases, periodontal disease is a preventable disease.
The bacteria in plaque can spread down the root of the tooth causing destruction as it goes. It starts by causing the gums to detach from the surface of the tooth causing something called a “periodontal pocket”.
The next stage is when the bacteria start to attack the alveolar bone which holds the teeth in place. Once this happens the teeth can become loose and could potentially fall out or need to be extracted by a dentist.
Signs of Periodontal Disease
- Swollen, red, bleeding gums that can also be painful
- Significant gum recession
- Loose teeth/ loss of teeth
- Teeth that have moved or drifted – commonly seen between front teeth
When you attend your dental appointment your teeth and gums will be screened for any signs of gum disease and periodontal disease. Your hygienist will assess your oral hygiene looking for any areas of plaque or calculus build up, screen your gums for any changes in colour, shape, size and for the presence of any periodontal pockets. X-rays may also be used to determine if there is any bone loss and how much has occurred.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
- Excellent oral hygiene habits including brushing your teeth twice daily and cleaning between teeth with floss of interdental brushes at least once daily
- Stopping smoking
- Regular visits to the dentist and hygienist for an examination and routine plaque and calculus removal
- Being aware of your own oral health and letting your hygienist know if you have noticed any bleeding coming from your gums
- Living a healthy lifestyle i.e eating a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables and partaking in regular exercise
In most cases, you will see your dental hygienist for periodontal treatment but in severe cases you may require a referral for more specialist care with a periodontist. Regardless of the severity or management of your disease, the most important role in your treatment is carried out you. Excellent oral hygiene is vital in the treatment of periodontal disease and your hygienist will tailor an oral hygiene plan to suit your individual needs.
Treatment of Periodontal Disease
- Usually requires 1-2 visits but can require up to 4 visits in more severe cases
- Scaling of teeth: removal of plaque/ calculus from the tooth surface, above and slightly below the gum line
- Deeper scaling of teeth (root surface debridement ): removal of calculus from the below the gum line in the presence of periodontal pockets; in some cases this can require the use of a local anaesthetic
- Tailored oral hygiene instruction that must be followed vigilantly at home
- Replacement of any defective fillings- any rough or overhanging surfaces can contribute to the presence and progression of gum disease
- Smoking cessation advice
- Regular review appointments at 3-6 monthly intervals and ongoing lifetime management
Call Dental 359 on 1300 625 625 now to reserve an appointment and learn how to floss properly. Our dedicated, hygienist is waiting to see you.