Peridontal (gum) Disease

BleedingGumComp_49809973-300-200Periodontal disease affects the gums and bone supporting your teeth. It is caused by sticky plaque and hard deposits of tartar. It usually happens when the teeth and gums are not kept clean enough. If you have very bad gum disease, you may have inherited it or you may have a problem with your general health which needs to be investigated.

Thoroughly brushing can remove sticky plaque. Scaling and polishing can remove hard tartar. Without regular cleaning, the gum will come away from the tooth, making pockets around the teeth where food and plaque can collect. Pockets are more difficult to keep clean so gum disease will usually get worse if nothing is done.

Gum disease has two stages:

  • It starts with inflammation – redness and swelling. Dentists call this gingivitis. It can be cured with good oral hygiene.
  • The next stage is called chronic periodontitis. Some of the bone that supports the teeth is lost and the teeth become loose until they eventually have to be taken out. Periodontitis cannot be reversed once it starts but it doesn’t have to get worse if you clean your teeth properly and have regular root planing from your dentist.

Who gets gum disease?:

Gum disease can start when you are a child. Chronic periodontitis is normally only a problem for adults. You might be worried about bad breath or your teeth looking longer as the gum covers less of them.

Some people are more likely to have periodontal disease than others:

  • Crooked teeth are more difficult to keep clean so you might have gum disease in just one part of your mouth.
  • People have different bacteria in their mouths. This may explain why gum disease can get worse very quickly for some people but not for others.
  • Smoking and drinking a lot of alcohol can make gum disease worse. Both are also linked with mouth cancer.
  • Drugs and medicines can affect your gums so your dentist will ask you about your general health.
  • Diabetes and some other diseases can reduce how resistant gums and bones are to damage.
  • Hormone changes also affect gum health. It could make a difference if you are pregnant or using an oral contraceptive.

Why should I avoid periodontal problems?

  • However healthy and strong your teeth are, they need to be supported by healthy gums and bone. Periodontal disease can lead to you losing teeth and all the difficulties that this can cause for eating and speaking.
  • Scientists are now discovering that periodontal disease is linked to coronary heart disease and stroke, especially for people who are already at risk in other ways ( through poor diet, smoking or high blood pressure).