Periodontal disease is commonly known as gum disease. A lot of people find it normal when their gums bleed during brushing or flossing, but this should not be the case. It is something that you should seek medical advice for and we at Emerald Dental Surgery can help you out but first, we need you to understand what it is all about.
So, what is gum disease?
Gum disease is simply an infection of the gums that surround one’s teeth. Other than just affecting the gums, they also have a negative effect to the bone support of the teeth. Gum disease is actually one of the major causes of tooth loss in the world today among adults.
Sadly, everyone is at risk for the condition but it is most prevalent among people who are past the age of thirty. When your gums start to swell and bleed, it might mean that you have a bacterial infection around the gums.
The two most common ways in which gum disease occur include:
- Gingivitis- This refers to an inflammation of the gum occurring at the neck of the teeth. Gingivitis is characterized by swelling, redness of the gums and bleeding while brushing. It can be seen in both chronic and acute forms. The acute form is usually linked to specific infections, trauma or microorganisms.
- Periodontitis- This is a type of inflammation that has a negative effect on both the bone and tissues of one’s teeth. With periodontitis, you will notice formation of pockets or spaces between the tooth and gums. When this situation progresses, it could lead to chronic periodontal destruction and could see one lose their teeth altogether. Luckily. Even though many adults suffer from gingivitis, it rarely progresses to this condition. Progression to periodontitis is usually attributed to factors such as hygiene and one’s genetic predisposition.
What Are The Causes Of Gum Disease?
For a lot of years, research has been carried out to find a conclusive cause of periodontal disease. It has therefore been discovered that bacteria in the dental plaque is a major cause of it. The worst part is that periodontal disease is linked to other health problems.
- Smoking or chewing of tobacco. This will get in the way of gum tissue healing.
- Crooked, overlapping teeth or those that are rotated. If your teeth look like this, that means they have created more areas that facilitate the accumulation of plaque and calculus, making it difficult for you to clean your teeth, subsequently causing the condition.
- Periodontal or gum disease could come about as a result of hormonal changes. During puberty, pregnancy or even menopause, one could experience an increase in hormones. This makes one’s blood vessels more susceptible to both chemical and bacterial attack. According to research, at puberty alone, gingivitis prevalence is between 70% to 90%.
- Cancer and cancer treatment. Cancer condition and its treatment is known to have a lot of effects on one’s overall health because it makes you more susceptible to infection. One of them could be gum disease.
- Alcohol consumption. Alcohol is known to cause a number of medical conditions. It also affects the mechanisms through which the mouth defends itself thus leading to periodontal disease.
- Stress. Most people are aware of the effects of stress to the body but believe it or not, stress also has a negative effect on your oral health.
- Breathing through the mouth. This could be harmful because it means the gums are not protected by the lips. It could in turn lead to chronic irritation and inflammation.
- Poor nutrition. When you take a diet that is high in sugar and carbohydrates and then you often skip drinking water, you create a breeding ground for formation or increase of plaque. Deficiency of vitamin C and other important nutrients will impair healing.
- Diabetes mellitus. This condition leads to impairment of the ability of gums to heal.
- Certain medication. Some drugs have been known to increase one’s chances of getting gum disease. An example is antiseizure medication.
- Insufficient dental care. When you do not receive professional care for your teeth for long periods of time, this could lead to gum disease.
- Poor saliva production. Saliva is very important in keeping the mouth clean and when it is not produced properly, it could have a negative effect on your oral health, thus causing periodontal disease.
Here are some symptoms of gum disease
- Bright red gums that bleed very easily during the brushing and flossing process
- Swollen gums
- Plaque on the gums or white spots may be present
- You could experience pus in between your gums
- Your gums might start looking like they are pulling away from your teeth
- Gum or periodontal disease could make your teeth fit together in your mouth differently from how they used to.
- You might lose some of your teeth
Treatment of gum disease
Gum disease can be treated through either surgical or non-surgical methods.
The nonsurgical methods include:
- Professional dental cleaning. Whenever you visit a dentist, they will remove plaque and tartar from the gum line either above or below. In case you have any signs of gum disease, they may recommend that you get your teeth professionally cleaned more than twice a year. However, note that dental cleanings are not a treatment for active gum disease. They are more of a preventive measure.
- Scaling and root planning. This is a deep cleaning procedure. It is done under a local anesthetic. During the process, tartar is removed from above and below the gum line. The rough spots on teeth are also smoothened. The smoothening process eliminates bacteria. It also provides a clean surface for the reattachment of the teeth. The scaling and root planning process is carried out once your dentist determines that you actually have plaque and calculus.
The surgical methods include:
- Flap surgery/ pocket reduction surgery. This procedure involves the lifting back of the gums and tartar removal. It could also involve the smoothening of irregular surfaces of the damaged bone. This is to reduce the hiding areas for the bacteria. After this, gums are placed in such a way that the tissue fits around the tooth comfortably. This method is done primarily to reduce the size between the gum and the tooth. When this is done, it decreases chances of the bacteria growing, therefore significantly reducing the chances of further health problems related to periodontal disease.
- Bone grafts. In this procedure, fragments of your own bone are used. That or a synthetic bone or a donated bone. They are used to replace the bone that has been ruined by gum disease. Through a new technology called tissue engineering, your own body is encouraged to regenerate bone and tissue at a faster rate.
- Soft tissue grafts. This is a procedure that reinforces thin gums or fills in those areas where gums have experienced receding. Often times, graft tissue is taken from the roof of the mouth and stitched in place. That way, it adds to the tissue of the affected area.
- Guided tissue regeneration. This procedure is mostly done in cases whereby the bone that supports your teeth has been destroyed. It benefits one as it stimulates the growth of the bone and gum tissue. Most of the time, it is done together with flap surgery whereby a small piece of mesh fabric is placed in between the tissues of the bone and gum. This prevents the growth of the gum tissue in the area in which the bone should be. That way, it enables the regrowth of the bone and connective tissues but in a better way whereby it supports the teeth.
- Bone surgery. This is done in order to make the shallow craters of the bone smooth due to the moderate and advanced loss of the bones. After a flap surgery, the bone around the tooth is reshaped in order to reduce craters and make it difficult for bacteria collection and growth.
For a good number of patients, scaling and root planning is usually all that is needed for treatment of gum disease. Surgery is usually just needed in occasions that the tissue around the teeth is unhealthy. In such cases, the nonsurgical options will not work for the patient.
At Emerald Dental Surgery , Nairobi you can get treatment for periodontal(gum) disease. Therefore, if you see symptoms such as the ones mentioned in the post you can always contact us to book an appointment, after which a doctor will see you and take you throughout the entire process from the initial consultation to the final treatment.