What is Periodontal Disease?

We’ve talked about periodontal disease a few times now, but what exactly is it?

Basically, it’s an infection in your gums. There are two types of gum disease – gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gingivitis – Is a reversible disease which is usually caused by bacteria build up in our mouth called plaque. Plaque left around the gumline stimulates an inflammation response from our bodies resulting in red, swollen, and bleeding gums. Gingivitis can usually be treated with a thorough clean by a Hygienist or Oral Health Therapist and a slight shift in brushing technique and some form of flossing. If this regime is followed consistently for 2 weeks, gingivitis will heal and gums will return to their normal healthy selves. In some cases we can recommend a special mouthwash for temporary use that will reduce bacteria in the mouth to aid in healing.

However, if gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, which is a more serious form of the disease. Periodontitis is a chronic inflammation of the gums and is irreversible. Periodontitis is when the bacterial infection spreads to the tissues and bones that support the teeth, causing the gums to pull away from the teeth, forms pockets in the gum that are more susceptible to infection This leads to bone loss and possible tooth loss.

Some symptoms of periodontal disease include:

  • Swollen gums

  • Puffy gums

  • Bright red or purple gums

  • Gums that bleed easily

  • Gums that feel tender to the touch

  • Bad breath

  • Receding gums

  • Spaces developing between your teeth

  • Painful chewing

  • Pus between your teeth and gums

  • Loose teeth

Research has shown that periodontitis is linked to conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and even cancer. Scientists aren’t sure if one causes the other, but one thing’s for sure: they’re definitely linked.

Tulip Dental Periodontal Disease

How do I manage periodontitis?

The management of periodontal disease is more involved than gingivitis treatment, though it does depend on the severity of the condition.

  1. The first stage in managing any severity of periodontitis is a visit with our Oral Health Therapists. 
  2. Depending on the severity and sensitivity appointment lengths on average will take 1.5hours and in some cases two separate appointments of 1.5hours.
  3. Our Oral Health Therapists will give you the tools to work on at home to manage your periodontitis. With periodontitis the most important tool in management is your own oral health care at home but due to the pocketing and depth of infection it’s near impossible to manage purely on your own.
  4. Dependent on the severity our Oral Health Therapists will usually recommend 3 monthly scales until the infection becomes less aggressive and more managed.

In some severe cases, our Oral Health Therapists will refer you to a specialist as they may not be able to successfully remove all build up due to the depth of pocketing.  Surgery may be necessary to root plane, repair or replace damaged tissue and bone.

If you suspect you have any form of periodontal disease book an appointment with one of our Oral Health Therapists today or ask your dentist at your next appointment.

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