Gum disease, how it works?
- Gum disease is caused by the accumulation of plaque around or between the teeth. Plaque is a film of bacteria which forms on the surface of the teeth and gums. Gum disease varies, from gingivitis which is completely reversible, to chronic periodontitis which is the main cause of tooth loss. Gum disease usually progresses very slowly and with monitoring, advice and treatment most people are able to keep most of their teeth for life.
- To prevent and treat gum disease, all the plaque on the teeth needs to be removed every day. This is usually done by brushing & flossing but the dentist may also recommend other techniques.
- Smoking is a major cause of gum disease. Smokers will not respond to treatment as well as non-smokers. Therefore it is important, to cease smoking if you wish to save your teeth.
- Procedures in gum disease treatment
- When conducting a dental examination, the dentist will check the gums and offer a variety of treatments. Sometimes oral hygiene instruction is all that is needed i.e. brushing and flossing. Sometimes a simple scale and polish by the dentist will be prescribed.
- Depending on the severity of cases, the dentist may need to carry out further cleaning of the roots of the teeth to make sure deposits of bacteria are removed. This may need to be done with the aid of a local anaesthetic. Afterwards, some discomfort might occur for a few days.
- The dentist may prescribe several cleaning visits to get the mouth clean, and then a review period set with further treatment. These visits may be as many as four times per year.
- However, day to day maintenance of the teeth is of the up most importance. Unless plaque removal is carried out regularly by the patient, including cleaning between the teeth, then the appointments with the dentist are of little value.
Possible complications if not treated
- As gum disease progresses the bone supporting the teeth is lost. The gums and bone will become infected causing bad breath and a bad taste. Eventually the teeth will become loose and will need to be removed. Gum disease usually does not hurt until it is fairly advanced.
- If the bone around the teeth is lost, it will not be able to grow back fully. Maintaining perfect cleaning, any further loss of bone should be slow and occasionally it may even stop. However, every patient needs to make sure that all plaque is removed every day and to attend regular examinations with the dentist.