Periodontal (gum) disease, is a condition involving inflammation of the gums, and loss of supporting structures around a tooth. If left untreated, periodontal disease will lead to tooth loss. As opposed to other conditions in the mouth, periodontal disease can advance without any symptoms.
The main risk factors involved in periodontal disease are poor oral hygiene and also smoking.
If the teeth are not regularly cleaned and monitored, plaque builds up, leading to an increase in toxins and inflammation. Left untreated, plaque will lead to loss of gum attachment to the tooth. This creates a space between the surface of the tooth and the gum called a periodontal pocket. Bacteria forms in the pocket causing bone loss. Periodontitis is irreversible. Other risks factors include uncontrolled diabetes, family history and genetics, stress, pregnancy, puberty, and some types of medications.
Periodontal disease usually progresses with few obvious signs, however, the following are the most common symptoms:
Effective daily cleaning of your teeth and regular dentist and hygienist appointments are the best way to keep this issue at bay. If the condition is advanced or complicated, then you will be referred to you to a specialist periodontist who is an expert in dealing with any advanced and complicated periodontal conditions. The first appointment with the periodontist will involve a thorough examination, followed by appropriate investigations, including x-rays.
Chronic periodontitis is a common gum disease in patients who do not maintain good oral hygiene or attend dental appointments on a regular basis. Ultimately if left untreated, complete bone loss may occur and lead to tooth loss. Severe forms of gum disease affect approximately 15% of the population.
The cascade of events is similar to the chronic periodontitis. However, the amount of bone destruction is not proportionate to the amount of plaque present. Hence, in these patients, oral hygiene is usually good, but there is a severe destruction of the supporting structures. Often, this a genetic problem that runs in the family. This issue is seen in less than 1% of the population.
Unfortunately, gum disease is painless. You need to attend to your dentist and hygienist on a regular basis for checkups. Bleeding gums are a sign that you may have a problem. In later stages of the disease, you may notice swelling of the gums, loose teeth, or increased spaces between your teeth.
A hygienist has experience in dealing with some forms of mild to moderate gum disease. Once the case is advanced, you will need to see a specialist periodontist. Periodontists work alongside hygienists to ensure optimum results for patients.
There is no cure for periodontitis. In most cases, the bone that has been lost around the teeth cannot be regrown. The aim of periodontal treatment is to stop the disease progressing any further. In certain cases some of the lost soft and hard tissue can be regenerated through surgical periodontal procedures.