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Gum Care

Your Gum Health is Important

100480684Did you know that over 95% of the British population have some degree of gum infection? Gum infections are the most common cause of tooth loss but often go unnoticed as they progress without pain. You can have great teeth – no cavities, terrific enamel, all lined up straight and yet lose them to gum disease. If you want to keep your own teeth for life then please read on.

Congratulations for taking gum disease seriously!

If you ever notice any of the following signs, you’re likely to have gum disease.

  • Gums that bleed when brushing or flossing
  • Gums that are red, swollen, or tender
  • Bad breath or bad tastes
  • Gum recession (‘going long in the tooth’)
  • Loosening of teeth
  • Teeth that drift from their original position
  • Loss of teeth

However it is also possible to exhibit no warning signs and this is why we perform routine periodontal screening at your regular Dental Health Reviews.

Modern science has let us know the cause of dental diseases and now most can be prevented or treated before becoming a major problem (previously the only solution was to extract teeth and have dentures).

Many types of bacteria exist in our mouths – they stick on our teeth and quickly multiply to form plaque. Certain bacteria within plaque are responsible for causing gum disease and others tooth decay. (You may have been shown these on the microscope).

There are two main forms:

Gingivitis is inflammation of just the soft gum tissue. The gums appear red and swollen; they may bleed when you brush or floss. Gingivitis when treated is reversible with no permanent damage to the gums.

Periodontitis is the progression of gingivitis below the gum line resulting in destruction of bone and the formation of ‘pockets’ (a space between the tooth and gum). The plaque bacteria accumulate in these pockets and form complex biofilms; where toxins are released to trigger destruction. The body responds with an inflammatory response where it turns on itself. This is the body’s way of warding off and get away from infectious agents.If left untreated, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss and can also aggravate systemic illnesses – such as heart disease.

Periodontitis is not reversible but it can be controlled to stop further destruction. This is why treatment must begin as early as possible.

Treatment Of Periodontitis requires a Combined effort:

Professional care to remove plaque bacteria/tartar deposits/plaque retention factors above and below the gum line, breaking up the complex biofilm in pockets to enable tissue healing. This treatment is called debridement. Often several hygienist visits are required, and recovery of health is best when these visits are performed in quick succession (within days) to achieve Full Mouth Disinfection. Antibiotic treatment may be indicated and in some advanced cases surgical treatment is required to create an environment that is more amenable to health.

You need great Home care habits to brush and clean between your teeth every day, stopping the accumulation of plaque bacteria above the gum line. You should also modify risk factors associated with periodontal disease such as smoking and stress.

Maintainenance of your improved gum health via regular dental health visits is crucial to success. Your periodontal status will be closely monitored, so that vulnerable sites can be assessed and treated orreferred to a periodontist.

We have a range of Gum Care, Gum Therapy, Periodontal Care and Periodontal Therapy Programmes available at the practice to suit your individual needs. They enable you to achieve excellent dental health and keep your teeth for life.

Frequently asked questions:

Can I prevent plaque from forming? Not entirely. However, careful tooth cleaning every day will remove the plaque before it accumulates to levels that allow the more harmful bacteria to multiply or form a complex biofilm. Plaque can be removed from the outer and inner tooth surfaces with a toothbrush, but other devices such as floss/tape/interdental brushes are necessary to clean between your teeth.

Is tartar the same thing as plaque? Not exactly. Tartar (calculus) is formed when minerals in saliva, such as calcium, combine with plaque and make it hard. This commonly happens behind the lower front teeth and once tartar has formed you need professional care to remove it.

Do all teeth in the mouth become affected to the same extent? No. Teeth that are kept completely clean will not become infected. Disease is usually more severe towards the back of the mouth and between the teeth where it is more difficult to clean.

Is failure to remove plaque the only cause of periodontal disease? Yes and unfortunately some people have a low resistance to periodontal disease and have to achieve virtually perfect cleaning to prevent it. Others appear to have a strong inborn resistance and don’t experience severe periodontal disease even when their tooth cleaning is poor. Most people are in between these two extremes. Smoking, stress, diabetes, diminished immunity, hereditary and hormone factors are known to increase susceptibility to periodontal disease. However overall no bacteria = no destruction.

I have always brushed my teeth twice a day. Why should I be affected? Unfortunately our toothbrushes often miss the same areas each time we brush and it will be these areas where infection progresses. It can be very difficult to reach in-between teeth and in the concavities that exist on some root surfaces. We will help you discover where these difficult areas exist and offer advice on how to reach them.

Will the treatment stop the bone from being destroyed? Yes

How is gum health monitored? Regular X-rays enable us to see the levels of bone support. Periodontal probes measure the depth of pockets and loss of gum attachment –normal healthy tissue has 1-3mm pocket depths. Probing also detects disease activity – healthy gums will rebound the probe and do not bleed. Disclosing liquids will help you monitor the efficiency of your home care.

If I go back to my old toothbrushing habits, will the disease recur? Yes, together we will need to work hard on maintaining your improved dental health. Studies show that excellent home care and regular professional care every three months can successfully prevent recurrence. Please remain committed.

To view and print a useful sample leaflet from the British Society of Periodontology click here.

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