Gum Disease

What is Periodontitis? 

Periodontitis is a deep seated form of gum disease that destroys the ligaments and bone that hold your teeth in the jaw. 

It is a “quiet” disease that you may not know you have unless your dentist examines you very carefully.

It presents with some or all of the following features:

•Bleeding gums  (e.g. when you brush your teeth)
•Gum recession (shrinkage)
•“Pocketing” (this is the development of a deep space between your teeth and gums)
•Mobility of teeth (teeth move excessively)
•Drifting of teeth (spaces appear between teeth) and / or
•Pus, swelling and abscess around some of your teeth
•Bone loss (this can only be seen on x-rays)

Why do I suffer from Periodontitis?

Historically, it was believed that the accumulation of plaque (due to poor oral hygiene) was sufficient to initiate periodontitis in all individuals. However, research shows that 10% of people are resistant to getting periodontitis even if their oral hygiene is poor. 10% are highly susceptible and will develop disease even with quite good oral hygiene and most of the remainder will develop the disease eventually (by 65 years-of-age) if they have average oral hygiene. 

Susceptible patients develop the disease because their immune system over-reacts to the presence of plaque at the gum margin and especially between the teeth. These patients are “at risk” of early tooth loss because they possess, or have been exposed to “risk factors”. 

What are the risk factors?

Risk factors are circumstances that increase your chances of getting the disease; they do not necessarily cause the disease. The following are the main risk factors:

• Genetics   • Stress

• Smoking   • Drugs

• Diabetes   • Pregnancy

I am concerned, what can I do next?

Periodontitis cannot be cured, but it can be stopped and held at bay so that you keep your teeth for much longer, if not for life. The most important thing you can do is to learn how to achieve the highest standard of oral hygiene possible. Like diabetes, patients have to monitor their blood glucose levels and be careful with their diet, you have to monitor your plaque levels and be careful with your oral hygiene.

No matter what we do for you, unless you are cleaning meticulously and conscientiously on a daily basis at home, our treatment will fail.

It is also recommended that you get your family members, including parents, siblings and/or children to see a dentist regularly and to detect gum disease early.

As you will notice from the photographs, the treatment of gum disease results in gaps between teeth once the inflammation and swelling settles down. This is common to see: It is better to have gaps between your teeth than have gaps of missing teeth. 

A gingival veneer can be used to close these gaps in some cases.

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