AVA Dental Referral Clinic
About Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is a disease which affects the gums and/or the bone that supports the teeth. The word periodontal literally means ‘around the tooth’. Periodontal disease or gum disease is a bacterial infection which, if left untreated can lead to tooth loss. It can affect one or more of the teeth and begins when the bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colourless film that constantly forms on your teeth) causes the gums to become inflamed.
Many instances of gum disease can be treated by a regular dentist. However, if your condition is more serious, or if you need specialist or complex treatment for periodontal disease, your dentist may refer you to a specialist periodontist. At AVA Dental Referral Clinic, we accept referrals from dental and medical practices throughout London, Barnet and Hertfordshire.
Gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease is an inflammation of the gums and is characterised by the redness, swelling and easily bleeding of the gums when brushed or flossed. Often missed due there being little or no discomfort, gingivitis is frequently caused by poor oral hygiene. If caught in the early stages, it can be reversed with professional dental treatment followed by good oral health care.
Advanced gingivitis can lead to other periodontal conditions including periodontitis. This occurs when plaque spreads and grows between the gum line. If left untreated, the plaque bacteria starts irritating the gums and causes the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw to recede, which in turn makes the teeth loose. A continued period of neglect is likely to result in tooth loss.
All gum diseases are caused by plaque, which is a film of bacteria that forms daily onto the surface of the teeth. Many of the bacteria in plaque are completely harmless, but there are some that have been shown to be the main cause of gum disease. To prevent and treat gum disease, you should make sure that you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day. This is done by brushing and flossing.
Research has shown that up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Even with excellent oral hygiene habits, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease.
Smoking and tobacco use
Most people know that 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 a higher risk of gum disease. This is because smoking slows down the delivery of blood to the gums, thereby 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.
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. This may make your diabetes harder to control and cause your infection to affect you more severely. 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. People with diabetes may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease.
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.
The first sign is blood on the toothbrush or in the rinsing water when you clean your teeth. Your gums may also bleed when you are eating, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Your breath may also become unpleasant.
We will always aim to restore your periodontal health in the least invasive and most cost-effective way possible. For milder cases, we can offer non-surgical gum treatment for periodontal disease. Treatment types include deep periodontal scaling to remove plaque, and root surface debridement. This cleans the root surfaces to remove plaque and tartar from deep periodontal pockets and smoothens 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, however this can also be treated. As your gums heal, they may recede to a healthier state. To keep your teeth and gums healthy for the long term, you may need professional maintenance therapy as well as visiting your dental hygienist regularly.
Surgical treatment for periodontal disease will help to reduce pocket depth and repair the damage caused by gum 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 may reduce your chances of developing serious health problems associated with advanced periodontal disease.
If periodontal disease has destroyed a large proportion of the 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.