Periodontal (gum) Disease
Periodontal disease is a disease that affects the tissues that support the teeth. The support system including the gum, bone and associated structures are infected by the plaque/tartar build-up around the teeth leading to their breakdown. The severity of the disease can be affected by the type of bacteria, the response of the individual and other underlying conditions such as diabetes or smoking.
The severity of periodontal disease can range from swollen gums (gingivitis), to mild (characterised by attachment loss of 4-5mm), moderate (attachment loss of 6-7mm) or severe periodontitis (8+ mm).
The progression of periodontal disease can be seen in the following image:
Unfortunately periodontal treatment is characterized by the side effects experienced by patients during treatment. These can include:
- pain and sensitivity during cleaning of the teeth (can be alleviated by local anaesthetic)
- pain and sensitivity after completion of the visit
- gum shrinkage (recession) following healing of the inflamed and swollen tissues
- increased risk of root decay following exposure of the root
The side effects can be managed in consultation with the dentist using a variety of desensitizing toothpaste, concentrated fluoride application or tooth mousse.
Longer term results of periodontal treatment:
Following professional cleaning, rigorous daily home dental hygiene is required to maintain healthy gums as this limits the build-up of the essential element of gum disease, the plaque bacteria. Recall appointments are required to assess the recovery of the gums and to address non-healing sites. Given a history of non-healing sites, the unfortunate consequence can be the loss of teeth.