Gum disease is the term used to describe the inflammatory conditions affecting the tissues around the tooth. Gum disease is the reaction of the tissues to bacteria in the mouth and is the most common cause of tooth loss. Bacteria in the mouth form a sticky film on the teeth called plaque which is removed by the action of tooth-brushing and flossing. Almost as soon as you finish brushing the plaque begins to reform again which is why dentists recommend brushing at least twice each day plus regular flossing and 6 monthly visits to the dentist for examination, oral hygiene instruction and a scale and clean.
Plaque left behind in areas where you haven't cleaned your teeth as well will irritate the gums and this is known as Gingivitis. Gingivitis is seen as redness of the gums and bleeding. Minerals in the saliva will begin to calcify long-standing areas of plaque into a hard coating known as calculus. Calculus is often rough and porous and bacteria live and multiply on it which exacerbates the gum irritation. Gingivitis is a reversible condition and is easily treated by improved brushing and flossing to ensure complete plaque removal and by visiting your dentist for a professional scale and clean to remove any calculus on a regular basis which is generally 6 monthly.
If gingivitis is left untreated, the bacteria will begin to move into the space between the tooth and gum known as the sulcus. Inflammation in this area damages the tissue attachment between the gum and the tooth and also the supporting bone around the tooth root. The result is a deep pocket forming between the gum and the tooth and an increase in tooth mobility. This is known as periodontitis or periodontal disease and the bone and tissue damage is largely irreversible. It is impossible to clean the plaque and calculus that form in the pocket by simply brushing your teeth so the condition becomes worse over time. The waste products caused by the action of the bacteria breaking down the tissues produces an unpleasant smell which causes bad breath.
The treatment for periodontal disease is to see your dentist for professional removal of the plaque and calculus inside the pocket over regular intervals to arrest the condition and prevent any further damage. This treatment is referred to as root-planing and the treatment intervals are usually every 3 months. Without professional treatment the affected tooth or teeth will eventually need to be removed. Your dentist may refer you to a periodontist for a treatment. Periodontists are specialists in the treatment of the periodontal or supporting tissues of the tooth.
If you are concerned about your gums or need a regular scale and clean please contact our friendly staff on (08)9341 1022 for an appointment.