Gum disease(or its proper term periodontitis/periodontal disease) is a series of disease that affects the tissues that surround and support the teeth. Periodontitis involves progressive and gradual loss of the alveolar bone (the bone which surrounds the teeth) and if left untreated, can lead to the loosening and subsequent loss of teeth.
The most common cause of periodontitis is due to over-accumulation of dental plaque, causing the body to retreat the tissues around the tooth. Think of it as your home team (i.e. your immune system) losing a battle against the bacteria and starting to retreat.
What’s the difference between gum disease and gum inflammation?
The key difference is how if affects your gum and bone’s outcome, otherwise both of them present almost similar signs and symptoms:
|Similar signs and symptoms||Differences|
|Periodontitis/periodontal disease (gum disease)||Gradual loss of bone or its surrounding tissues|
|Gingivitis (gum inflammation)||No loss of bone or its surrounding tissues|
How do I know I have gum disease or gum inflammation?
The only way that we can differentiate these is by having a regular dental check-ups (and professional teeth cleaning and maintenance) by your dentist as most gum diseases are symptom-less and can only be diagnosed by seeing the signs of it by your dentist.
How can it be treated?
There are three key steps in order to fully treat gum disease:
- Professional cleaning (commonly referred as “deep cleaning” or “root planing”)
- Home maintainance
- Continuous preventive cleaning
The professional cleaning generally involves two appointments, where local anesthetic is used to numb the gums and the gums are cleaned thoroughly. We will then give you another check up (in around 2 weeks time) to see if your gums are improving.
Once everything is stable, we will arrange for you to have your teeth cleaned (without local anesthetic) in regular intervals to prevent the gum disease from rising again.
How can I prevent it?
The key words are: good oral hygiene
- Brushing properly on a regular basis (at least twice daily) using proper brushing techiniques such as the modified bass techinique. Making sure that all of the surfaces of the tooth are cleaned as best as possible.
- Flossing daily and using interdental brushes (if the space between teeth is large enough), as well as cleaning behind the last tooth, the third molar (wisdom teeth), in each quarter. If having trouble brushing the wisdom teeth you may want to consider removing it.
- Using an antiseptic mouthwash: Chlorhexidine gluconate-based mouthwash in combination with careful oral hygiene may cure gingivitis, although they cannot reverse any attachment loss due to periodontitis.
- Using periodontal trays to maintain dentist-prescribed medications at the source of the disease: The use of trays allows the medication to stay in place long enough to penetrate the dental plaque. For detailed information, please see the periopack in our after care series.
- Regular dental check-ups and professional teeth cleaning by your dentist as most gum disease are symptom-less and can only be diagnosed by seeing the signs of it by your dentist.
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