What is Periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease or Periodontitis are medical terms for “gum disease”. It is a disease that is characterised by a breakdown of the hard and soft tissues that support the tooth (the bone and the gum) which, if not treated, can lead to gum recession, tooth drifting, pain and finally to tooth loss.
It is usually detected by redness, bleeding, swelling, receding gums, bad breath and tooth mobility.
What causes Periodontal disease?
Most of the times, Periodontitis is caused by inflammation in response to the presence of a great number of bacteria around the gum line or the presence of bacterial species that are especially harmful. This shows the importance of keeping an exquisite oral hygiene routine. There are other major known risk factors such as:
- Smoking: people who smoke are at an increased risk of having gum disease and their response to periodontal treatment is worse than that of non-smokers. People who quit smoking show better results than smokers, so it is worth to quit smoking;
- Uncontrolled diabetes: people with a poor blood sugar control have a higher risk of having periodontitis. There is also some evidence that this works both ways, which means that if you get your gum disease under control this will help you keep your blood sugar lower. It is important to mention that diabetics with a good blood sugar control seem to have the same risk as non-diabetics;
- Genetics: some people are genetically more susceptible to have gum disease.
Some rare diseases and syndromes and some drugs can also have periodontal manifestations, it is important to tell your dentist if you have any medical condition and all the medication you take.
Is periodontal disease responsible for other diseases?
The presence of a great number of bacteria and inflammatory molecules around the teeth with the increased blood supply to the area during inflamed stages will allow them to enter the blood stream and potentially cause other systemic consequences.
There is strong evidence that people with Periodontal disease have more difficulty in maintaining a stable blood sugar level. There is also some evidence that a successful periodontal treatment is responsible for a reduction in HbA1c equivalent to a second oral anti-diabetic drug.
The association between Periodontal disease and heart disease has also been the subject of some studies and there is some emerging evidence of this relationship.
What is the treatment of Periodontal disease?
The initial treatment of this disease usually involves a non-surgical phase which includes a deep clean to remove the hard deposits that are around and below the gum line. These deposits are clusters of bacteria and minerals that are plaque-retentive and prevent you from performing an effective oral hygiene. By removing these deposits and smoothing the root surface we are reducing the number of bacteria present and at the same time making it easier for you to clean your teeth effectively to maintain a low number of bacteria present.
In certain situations, this treatment is not enough and a surgical approach is needed, either to improve your ability to clean your teeth or to regenerate some of the bone you have lost.
What are the benefits of periodontal treatment?
When you get your gums under control you are more likely to keep your teeth for longer. It will also improve your self-confidence because you will have a fresher breath and less inflammation and bleeding and it will have a major impact on your ability to enjoy the food you love. This is in addition to the benefits on your general health because of the above-mentioned relationship between your oral and general health.
What should you be using on your oral hygiene routine?
Your oral hygiene home routine is the single most important factor for the success of the treatment. The use of a good electric toothbrush (which does not have to be the most expensive you can find) twice or three times a day for around 2 minutes and good interdental cleaning with the correct size interdental brushes or dental floss/tape on the gaps that are too narrow is the minimum required. Other aids may be necessary on specific situations but if you are already using these two you are on a good path.
Book Your Periodontal Appointment
If you are worried you may have gum disease or would like to discuss any issue book an appointment with us.
If you are a dentist referring a patient please use this form:
Some useful information:
Good quality information on Periodontal disease:
http://www.bsperio.org.uk/ – from the British Society of Periodontology
https://www.efp.org/patients/index.html – from the European Federation of Periodontology
Periodontal disease relationship with heart disease and diabetes:
How to use interdental brushes:
How to use an electric toothbrush: