Periodontal disease affects the gums, bone and other supporting tissues of the teeth. Approximately 80% of the population suffer with moderate forms of the disease and 10% suffer with the more severe forms of the disease. The latter group have a greater risk of losing teeth through the periodontal disease
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria which collect around the teeth. The bacteria produce toxins which result in the destruction of the supporting tissues. Risk factors, ie. smoking and genetics, have been identified. There are variable signs and symptoms which include bleeding gums, mobility or drifting teeth and it is usually painless.
Your general dental practitioner will include an examination of your gums during your routine dental check up. If signs of periodontal disease are identified, your dentist may refer you to our specialist in periodontics. We cover all aspects of periodontology.
Treatments include non surgical and surgical periodontal techniques, including regeneration, muco-gingival soft tissue management, adjunctive antimicrobial therapy and crown lengthening.
The causes of periodontal disease
Although plaque is the main cause of gum disease, there are a number of risk factors that make some people more susceptible.
- Smoking and tobacco use – Most people know tobacco use is linked with many serious illnesses such as lung cancer and heart disease – but many people don’t realise that smokers are also at higher risk of gum disease. This is because smoking slows down the delivery of blood to the gums, increasing bacterial plaque. In fact, recent studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.
- Genetics – Research has shown that up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Even with an excellent oral hygiene habits, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease.
- Gender – Women may suffer with periodontal disease more than men simply because of the hormonal fluctuations they experience during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and the menopause. These hormonal changes make your gums more sensitive and therefore more susceptible to periodontal diseases, so you should take extra care of your oral health at these times
- Diabetes – People with diabetes are generally at higher risk of developing infections, including gum disease. These infections can make it more difficult for your body to process and use insulin, which may make your diabetes harder to control and cause your infection to affect you more severely than usual. If you are diabetic, it is important that your gums are checked regularly by a dental hygienist and any infections treated as soon as possible.
Treating periodontal disease
Routine dental examinations are essential in detecting early signs of gum disease. Prevention is better than curing the disease and routine oral hygiene visits will make a significant difference.
We always aim to restore your periodontal health in the least evasive and most cost-effective way possible. For milder cases of periodontal disease, there are several non surgical gum treatments. These include deep scaling to remove plaque. Root surface debridement cleans the root surfaces to remove plaque and tartar from deep periodontal pockets, and smoothes the tooth root to remove bacteria and enable the gums to reattach themselves to the teeth. You may also need a course of antibiotics.
After your initial non surgical treatment, you may find your teeth are more sensitive for a few weeks, but we can treat this if necessary. As your gums heal, they may recede to a healthier state. To keep your teeth and gums healthy in the long term, you may need professional maintenance therapy as well as visiting your dental hygienist regularly.
If periodontal disease has destroyed a lot of your supporting tissue and bone, the affected teeth will need to be removed. However, our periodontist may be able to reverse some of this damage by regenerating lost bone and tissue. This procedure involves folding back the gum tissue and removing the bacteria. We can then use membranes (filters), bone grafts or tissue-stimulating proteins to encourage your body’s natural ability to regenerate bone and tissue.
There are many options for improving support for your teeth and restoring your bone to a healthy level. Your periodontist will discuss the best treatment options with you.
Periodontal surgery will help to reduce pocket depth and repair the damage caused by periodontal disease. Afterwards, you can increase your chances of keeping your natural teeth with a combination of good oral hygiene and regular professional maintenance, including hygienist appointments. This will also reduce your chances of developing serious health problems associated with periodontal disease.