Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease/periodontitis is a chronic infection of the gums and bone around the tooth. This results in bone loss around the tooth root.
Signs of gum disease (not a definitive list):
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Gum recession
- Teeth appearing ‘longer’
- Bleeding around gums
- Teeth moving or ‘coming out of gums more’
- More food getting stuck around the gums and in between teeth
Some of these symptoms can also mean other problems so don’t self-diagnose!
Risk factors for gum disease
- Mouth breathing
- This dries your mouth out and the natural protection that saliva offers is reduced. Also the plaque becomes dried out and more difficult to clean.
Ways to reduce your risk
- Cleaning well
- Brushing 2x day
- Flossing/Interdental brushes daily
- Get a regular check-up and clean at the dentist. If you are at high risk, you may need this done every 3 months
- Stop smoking
- Get your general health under control (especially diabetes managed well)
What do I do if I have gum disease?
The key with treatment of gum disease is that there is no quick cure. It is something that requires ongoing management.
There are many treatment options and as with anything, the key is to come in as soon as possible for treatment. The longer you wait, the more likely it will become severe and you will end up losing teeth.
The treatment you require really depends on the severity of the gum disease. Usually you will need a full measurement of your gum and bone height + a full mouth X-ray (called an OPG). Subsequently, we perform a deep clean called ‘Root-planing’. This is done under a local anaesthetic so we can clean under the gums well and return the tooth to a healthy state.
After this, we need to review your gums and see if it is responding to treatment. If it is healing well, we monitor you every 3 months and do a check-up and clean. It is very important to maintain this otherwise the gum disease will worsen.
If things are not stable- we may need to look at gum surgery or other interventions.
Gum disease is something that can lie dormant with no symptoms for a long time so ensure you get your teeth checked regularly to avoid losing teeth!