Gum Disease - RichmondRichmond Richmond Road

What is Periodontal Disease?

Gum disease proper is characterised by the irreversible destruction of the periodontium (structures holding the teeth in) as a result of the immune reaction between us and bacterial plaque at gum margins. The result is pocketing, gum recession, bone destruction and bleeding which can eventually lead to tooth mobility and eventual tooth loss.Periodontitis requires further treatment than Gingivitis. Patients will require thorough debridement of all accessible tooth surfaces. Sometimes this may require local anaesthetic.

In more severe cases, the patient may be referred to a local Periodontal Specialist for an opinion and possible treatment. Following the initial therapy maintenance is often provided between the two practices long term.

Some patients may benefit from the use of antimicrobials to supplement their treatment such as antibiotics, either systemic or local, and Periochips (small self dissolving chips inserted into pockets which release antimicrobials directly to the pocket flora to help eliminate stubborn residual bacteria). This treatment is very successful and will help slow down the rate of destruction and hopefully prevent the loss of the affected teeth.

Gum Disease

Why might I be susceptible?

Periodontal disease is the number one cause of tooth loss amongst adults. This is because a certain number of people (15-20%) have immune systems that overreact to the bad bacteria in their mouths. When this overreaction occurs, the immune system attacks and breaks down the bone and tissue that surround the tooth. This destruction is not predictable and can occur sporadically. None of us knows if we are part of this 15-20% because we can’t usually feel or notice the onset of gum and bone (periodontal) disease. Both adults and children should be routinely checked for gum disease.

Keeping your gums in shape

Keep in mind that healthy gums DON’T BLEED. You are the key player on the hygiene team. If you don’t do the essential daily brushing and flossing, the rest of your dental team (the dentist and hygienist) are playing short-handed. However, despite everyone fighting the good fight, stubborn plaque and bacteria will require some new maintenance techniques for battling gum infection.

GUM DISEASE IS NOT CURABLE, BUT IT IS TREATABLE, AND IN MOST CASES, CONTROLLABLE

Links to Systemic Disease

As well as tooth decay and gum disease, poor oral hygiene has been linked to systemic disease. Studies are now linking gum disease with many other conditions including heart disease and stroke. Scientists believe that inflammation caused by the bacteria involved with periodontal disease may be responsible for the association. Untreated gum disease increases a susceptible individual’s risk. Early detection leads to easier and simpler treatment and to a better quality of life.

Can smoking cause Gum Disease?

Smokers have been shown to not only suffer with a more aggressive form periodontal disease but also to show a poorer response to treatment. They have more teeth affected by periodontal disease; have deeper pocketing, less bleeding and greater bony destruction. Data also shows smokers lose more teeth than those who do not.

The differences are due to constriction of blood vessels, suppression of the immune system and changes in the oral cavity as a result of the irritants and chemicals found within the cigarette smoke. Smokers suffering with periodontal disease are therefore more likely to require a specialist referral and the use of antimicrobials.

Are you living at high risk for gum disease?

Smoking: Numerous studies have shown that smokers have more gum disease. Smokers have increased levels of tartar in the mouth, and experience more tissue irritation, which makes their gums more susceptible to disease. Smokers have more bone loss and heal less quickly than non-smokers.

Stress: When our immune system is stressed it is difficult to fight off the bacteria that cause gum infections.

Dental neglect: Avoiding the dentist is a lifestyle choice that puts you at risk of contracting diseases of the mouth, teeth and gums.

Floss or die! Your hygienist or dentist works to prevent infection in your mouth from entering the bloodstream and reaching vital organs.

Heart disease: Gum inflammation products and bacteria in gum disease can cause heart disease, and in some cases, double the risk of a fatal heart attack. In addition, bacteria from your mouth may combine with blood-clotting cells called platelets, forming heart-stopping blood clots.

Stroke: New studies show that 70% of the fatty deposits of stroke sufferers contain bacteria, of which 40% comes from the mouth.

Diabetics: This group of people are more likely to have gum disease than most people and gum disease makes it more difficult for diabetics to control their blood sugar.

Premature birth: Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be as much as seven times more likely to have a baby born early. Some research suggests that gum disease may increase the level of hormones that induce labour.

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