Gum Disease & Treatment
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is a common condition that can affect your gum tissue and the bone that holds your teeth in place. If detected during its early stages, it can be reversed, but if allowed to progress it can only be managed. The condition is thought to affect around 80% of the adult population and is the biggest cause of tooth loss in the over 45s. It is also linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and dementia.
Early-stage gum disease is called Gingivitis. This is caused by your body’s response to sticky plaque bacteria which release toxins, causing inflammation. Red gums and bleeding when you brush are early signs, but it can be reversed by an effective daily cleaning and flossing regime.
If you ignore Gingivitis it may progress to Periodontitis, where inflammation causes gums to separate from the teeth. This can create pockets which are susceptible to infection and destroy the bone holding the tooth in place. Periodontitis is irreversible ̶ once you have periodontitis you will always have it. The disease can go through stages of activity, remission, and stability, which makes regular routine dental assessments vital.
Treating and managing gum disease is also a requirement before you can be considered for restorative treatments such as dental implants. With support from your hygienist and dentist, and your effective daily oral hygiene routine, periodontal disease can be controlled and ultimately stabilised.
Preventing gum disease
The best way to prevent gum disease is to make sure plaque is removed effectively and regularly. This means having a good home care routine with plenty of brushing and interdental cleaning, regular dental check-ups to alert you to early signs of disease and visiting the hygienist so your oral health is continually assessed. Other ways to reduce your risk of developing the disease include stopping smoking, reducing stress, and eating a well-balanced diet.
Treating gum disease – what to expect
The first step of treatment is to undergo an oral examination so that we can assess your mouth and diagnose the extent of your periodontal disease. This may include the need for x-rays. At your appointment, your hygienist will record your plaque levels, bleeding sites, measure around each tooth to assess bone loss (pockets) and record tooth mobility. She will then propose a tailored course of treatment and the number of appointments necessary to bring your gum disease under control.
Your appointment lengths and recall intervals are based on how advanced your gum disease is and whether it is active or stabilised. This varies from person to person and is also highly dependent on how quickly you reach an effective level of daily plaque control.
Your role in the management and stabilisation of periodontal disease is vital. The disease will not be controlled without meticulous daily oral hygiene – what we do helps, what you do matters. Relying on your hygienist visit alone will not stabilise your gum disease, which is why we work with you to achieve an excellent home care routine.
Our oral health educator team will show you the techniques you need, along with the toothbrushes and aids, to clean between your teeth to an effective standard so that bacteria levels are kept low, and inflammation is eliminated. Controlling risk factors such as smoking, nutrition, stress, and diabetes, also has an important part in helping you to control your disease.
Once you can remove the plaque build-upon a daily basis, we will remove the deposits that you cannot reach or that are attached firmly to the teeth. This will take time and require several dental hygiene appointments over a period of weeks or months. Treatment will be carried out by our hygienists who are specifically trained in these techniques. More severe or non-responsive cases may require a form of surgery in which case you will be referred to a specialist in Periodontics.
If the bone loss around your teeth is not controlled your teeth will become mobile, and in some cases, teeth will be lost. After periodontal treatment, due to irreversible bone loss, it is likely that you will experience some gum recession and possibly tooth and root sensitivity. You may also notice larger spaces between your teeth which are unavoidable side effects of treatment.
To check the health of your gums, call reception on 01805 623657 to book an appointment with our team of dental hygienists. If you notice any symptoms of periodontitis, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you seek care, the better your chances of limiting the long-term damage periodontitis can cause to your oral and overall health.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is an inflammatory disease caused by the body’s response to a build-up of dental plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming around your teeth. The inflammation in your gums is part of the body’s natural defence against the bacteria, however in some people, the immune system can overreact and start to break down the gum tissue and even the bone that supports the tooth. Advanced gum disease can cause tooth loss and serious infections. The inflammatory response also has links to increased risk of heart disease and dementia.
Am I at risk from gum disease?
The single biggest risk factor for developing periodontal disease is inadequate daily oral hygiene. Allowing plaque bacteria to grow and mature, sitting around your teeth and gum margins for prolonged periods of time, can provoke the destructive inflammatory response.
The second biggest risk factor is smoking. Smokers are four times more likely to develop gum disease and three times more likely to lose teeth than non-smokers, and the response to treatment in smokers can be poor. Stopping or reducing smoking will help. Other risk factors include family history, stress, and underlying health conditions such as diabetes.
What are the warning signs of gum disease?
Gum disease can creep up on you. While symptoms may sometimes not show up until it is advanced, common early warning signs include bad breath, red, swollen, or tender gums, and bleeding when you brush or floss. More advanced signs include gums that are receding or pulling away from your teeth (making them look longer than they used to), loose or separating teeth and pus between your teeth and gums.
What is the best treatment for gum disease?
Mild gum disease can usually be treated by an effective oral health regime, including brushing your teeth twice a day and cleaning between your teeth regularly. Ask us for advice if you are unsure about your cleaning techniques and come for regular dental check-ups. If necessary, our hygienists will be able to remove any hardened build-up of plaque (tartar). More advanced cases of gum disease will require an extended course of hygiene treatment, tailored to your specific needs. In severe cases surgery may be required, for which you would be referred to a specialist periodontist.
Will periodontal disease cause me to lose my teeth?
It is no longer considered inevitable that your teeth will be lost if you have advanced periodontal disease. In most cases it can be treated successfully, however, we cannot cure it. Like diabetes, there is no cure but by stabilizing the disease we can prevent further damage and allow you to keep your teeth for a long time.
Can I have dental implants if I have gum disease?
If you have gum disease you will need to have it treated before you can be considered for dental implants. Periodontitis can lead to gum recession and bone loss, which can compromise the stability of a placed dental implant. Once your treatment is complete, our dental implant team will be able to assess your jawbone, and if suitable, undertake a bone graft (also known as bone augmentation). This will increase the amount of bone in your jaw to provide a sturdy anchor for your implant(s). In severe cases of bone loss, implants may not be possible and an alternative, such as dentures may be offered. An effective oral health regime is vital to the longevity of implants – poor oral hygiene leading to gum disease (peri-implantitis) is the most common cause of implant failure.
What are the links between gum disease and other diseases?
As well as having negative impacts on your oral health, there is growing evidence to suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with severe gum disease (periodontitis) might increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, dementia, and other serious health conditions. It is also suspected that certain diseases, such as diabetes, can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe, however more research is needed to determine the exact relationship between the conditions.Return to the Treatments page