Causes And Treatment Of Gum (Periodontal) Disease

Our mouths are generally packed with bacteria. These, together with mucus and other elements, continually create a colourless sticky "plaque" on our teeth. Flossing and brushing assist in getting rid of plaque. The plaque that doesn’t get eliminated could harden on your teeth and form "tartar" which even repeated brushing can’t clean. It is only with professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist that could remove tartar. Smoking has been strongly linked with periodontal disease.

The Australian Dental Journal considers periodontal disease to be an opportunistic infection due to the causative agents such as dental plaque and the host reactions that might be modulated by environmental, genetic and other acquired risk factors. Gum diseases range from the simple inflammation to severe disease that could result in some major damage to your soft tissue and the bone supporting the teeth. In the worst of cases, you could lose your teeth.

Who can get Gum Disease?

On average, people typically don’t show gum disease signs until they’re well into their 30s or early 40s. Men are generally more predisposed to gum disease compared to women. Even though teenagers will rarely develop full blown periodontitis, they could develop a more mild form of gum disease known as gingivitis. In the majority of cases, gum disease will only develop when plaque and tartar are allowed to accumulate under and along your gum line.

How Can I know if I Have the Disease?

Symptoms of periodontal (gum) disease include:

– Bad breath which won’t just go away

– Swollen or red gums

– Teeth that are quite sensitive

– Gums that are tender or bleeding

– Loose teeth

– Painful chewing

– Gums that are receding gums or teeth that appear longer

Treatment of Gum (Periodontal) Disease

The key objective of periodontal treatment is control of the infection. The methods and types of treatment vary, based on the scope of your gum disease. Whatever mode of treatment adopted, it will require that you keep up good oral care while at home after the treatment. The dentist could also recommend certain behaviour changes such as quitting smoking so as to enhance your treatment outcome.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research notes in its NIH Publication of September 2013 that treatment outcomes will be dependent on several things, such as how far the disease your gum disease has progressed, how well you keep up with good oral care at home after treatment and certain known risk factors like tobacco smoking, which could slow or lower the rates of success.

– Deep Cleaning

The dental specialist removes the plaque accumulation using a deep-cleaning technique known as scaling or root planning which scrapes off the tartar and helps in removing bacteria contributing to the gum disease. In some instances, a laser could be employed in removing the tartar and plaque. This modern method results in minimized bleeding, swelling and general discomfort.

– Medications and/or Surgery

Medications could also be employed with therapies that involve root planning and scaling, although these cannot always be used as a substitute to surgery. Based on the disease progression, the periodontist may suggest surgical management, either through flap surgery or bone grafting.

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