Periodontal therapy is the treatment and prevention of gum disease. Healthy teeth need healthy gums, and if left untreated gum disease can cause the loss of our teeth. With proper treatment and care, our teeth should last our entire lifetime. Our in-house hygienists, Jan and Lucy, both share a special interest in periodontal treatment and oral hygiene. Regular six-monthly check ups are essential in preventing the deterioration of your oral health, but can also pick up the early development of gum disease or mouth cancer.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease
Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. In the worst cases, teeth are lost. Gum disease is a threat to your oral health and research is also pointing to possible health effects of periodontal diseases that go well beyond your mouth. Whether it is stopped, slowed, or gets worse depends a great deal on how well you care for your teeth and gums every day, as well as other factors such as your diet, lifestyle and genetics.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
Our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky, colourless "plaque" on teeth. Daily brushing and flossing help remove plaque, but if missed, can harden and form bacteria-harbouring "tartar" that brushing doesn't clean. Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar, so it is essential to maintain regular hygiene visits to detect and remove plaque and tartar. If we determine that your lifestyle or diet is having an adverse affect on your teeth, our in-house nutritionist can help create a plan for improving not only your periodontal health, but your overall well being.
The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums that is called "gingivitis." In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular deep cleaning by Jan or Lucy. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place.
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to "periodontitis" or inflammation around the tooth. In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form "pockets" that become infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body's enzymes fighting the infection actually start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and connective tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.
Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of periodontitis. In addition, smoking can lower the chances of success of some dental treatments and impacts healing. Hormonal imbalance, cancer and compromised immune diseases, diabetes, stress, medications such as anti-depressants and heart medications that reduce saliva flow can put your dental health at risk. Although people usually do not display signs of gum disease until they are in their 30s or 40s, men are more likely to have periodontal disease than women. Although teenagers rarely develop periodontitis, they can develop gingivitis, the milder form of gum disease. Most commonly, gum disease develops when plaque is allowed to build up along and under the gum line.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease Include:
- Bad breath that won't go away
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
At QRDC, our Jan or Lucy, our in-house hygienists, will inquire about your medical history to identify underlying conditions or risk factors that may contribute to periodontal disease, and examine your gums and note any signs of inflammation or infection. They will then use a tiny ruler called a 'probe' to check for periodontal pockets and to measure any pockets. In a healthy mouth, the depth of these pockets is usually between 1 and 3 millimeters. You may require an X Ray to determine the extent of the disease, if indicated, and further treatment, including a change in your diet and behavior may be necessary.
Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing)
Jan and Lucy both remove plaque through a deep-cleaning method called scaling and root planing. Scaling means scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing gets rid of rough spots on the tooth root where the germs gather, and helps remove bacteria that contribute to the disease.
It is essential that orthodontic patients maintain regular hygiene visits every three months, especially those who are wearing retainers, braces or removable appliances. Appliances and braces can not only prevent saliva from cleaning your teeth, but staining and decalcification can occur around the brackets and can lead to more serious issues if regular deep-cleaning does not occur. Dr Stefan or Dr David will contract any orthodontic patient to attend their hygiene sessions for this reason, so please do not hesitate to speak to them about why more frequent oral hygiene sessions are necessary.
Remember to keep your hygiene appointments every six months, as not only will this prevent the possibility of developing periodontal disease, but any ulcers or suspicious lesions can be monitored to prevent the potential loss of teeth or tissue.