Routine Dentistry


Periodontal (Gum) Disease in Sidcup, Kent

The periodontal tissue supports your teeth, i.e. the bone and gum. Problems associated with this area are referred to as periodontal disease.

The cause of this is the build up of bacteria (plaque), which produce toxins that irritate the gum (gingivitis). Changing brushing habits alone can often reverse this problem. Our hygienist can provide instruction on altering your tooth brushing technique. The situation progresses when the infection moves below the gum and the irritation damages the supporting bone. This is called periodontitis and can ultimately result in tooth loss.

This is usually unnoticed by patients. Its progression is slow and painless but the effects can be very damaging and long lasting. The longer it is left undiagnosed and without treatment, the more damage occurs and the more difficult these problems are to treat. The teeth may be lost if treatment is left too late.

All of our patients are screened for periodontal problems and advised according to their individual needs.

Perfectly healthy periodontal tissue showing pink, firm and well contoured gums.

Signs to watch out for:

  1. Bleeding Gums: Spontaneous or when you brush your teeth. The presence of blood when you rinse after brushing and blood on your tooth brush are signs that should not be ignored. Smoking can mask these signs.
  2. Red Gums: Redness of the gums is a sign of problems and that the body is reacting to the bacterial build up. Healthy gums are naturally pink.
  3. Gum shrinkage: The gum overlying the tooth starts to recede and the teeth appear longer.
  4. Loosening of your teeth. This is usually at an advanced stage.

Other signs - bad breath, scale accumulation, unpleasant taste, shiny gums and stained teeth.

There are many factors involved in this disease, but correct tooth brushing is the most important preventative step.

Some patients are genetically more susceptible to gum disease and certain medical conditions can also reduce your resistance. Poor dental work can have a detrimental effect and can prove difficult to keep clean. Such patients often benefit form regular visits to our hygienist to help maintain a healthy mouth.

Gum disease starts as gingivitis and may progress to periodontitis
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums due to bacterial accumulation around teeth. The bacteria produce toxins that irritated and damage the adjacent gum.
Plaque cannot be seen on the teeth usually Pacing a dye on the teeth shows the build up of damaging plaque
Untreated gingivitis can lead periodontitis.
Periodontitis

Periodontitis is generally unnoticed by patients. It is usually painless and progresses slowly until the teeth begin to feel loose. Periodontitis is the formation of pockets between the tooth and gum. Bacteria infect the pockets below the gum and damage the supporting bone.

Periodontitis is the most common cause of tooth loss and if left undiagnosed and without treatment, can result in complete tooth loss. This disease is much more destructive than gingivitis and should be treated as early as possible to minimize damage and simplify treatment. The situation must then be kept monitored and be controlled. At advanced stages tooth loss may be unavoidable.

Treatment is usually by professional cleaning of these pockets by the hygienist or dentist, as well as advise with cleaning techniques. Treatment of more advanced cases may require more specialized attention. Usually this can be avoided if problems are detected early. Once the gums return to optimum health, maintenance and monitoring should be undertaken.
Puffy swollen gums with pockets detected and bleeding due to bacterial infection

General advice:

  • Regular brushing (2 x daily for 3 minutes).
  • Massage your gums with your tooth brush.
  • Use a good quality tooth brush and change it regularly.
  • Clean between your teeth i.e. floss.
  • Have periodontal health screened regularly.
  • Report any signs of periodontal disease to your dentist as soon as possible.
  • Use professional help available for maintenance (hygienist).
 
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