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Periodontics is dental speciality concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of functional and structural diseases of the periodontal membrane and related tissues that surround and support the teeth. Degeneration or inflammation of these tissues can be caused by various systemic or local diseases or by poor oral hygiene.
Gum disease occurs with swelling, soreness with or without infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. Two forms of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums. The gums around the teeth become red swollen and tender and bleed when brushing.
If gingivitis is not treated then it can turn into periodontal disease. There are a number of types of periodontal disease and they all affect the tissues supporting the teeth. as this disease progresses the supporting bone around the teeth is lost, and the teeth become loose. This will lead to teeth eventually falling out. This is the most common form of people loosing teeth. The disease develops very slowly in most people, and it can be slowed down to a rate that should allow you to keep most of your teeth for life.
The disease is caused by plaque. Plaque is a film of bacteria which forms on the surface of the teeth and gums every day. When you eat foods containing sugars, the bacteria in plaque produce acids, which attack tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with teeth. After constant acid attack, the tooth enamel breaks down forming a hole or cavity.
Many of the bacteria in plaque are completely harmless, but there are some that have been shown to be the main cause of gum disease. Plaque will harden into something called calculus another name for it is ‘tartar’. As calculus forms around the gums, the plaque underneath releases poisons causing the gums to become irritated and inflamed. The gums begin to pull away from the teeth and the gaps become infected. If gum disease is not treated promptly, the bone supporting the teeth is destroyed and healthy teeth can become loose and fall out.
To prevent and treat gum disease, you need to make sure you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day. This is done by brushing and flossing and use of other dental aids
Smokers are more prone to gum disease. The gums are affected because smoking causes a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, so the infected gums fail to heal.
Gum disease can progress painlessly on the whole so that you do notice the damage it is doing. However, the bacteria are sometimes more active and this makes your gums sore. This can lead to gum abscesses, and pus leaking from around the teeth. The bone supporting the teeth can be lost. The treatment of gum disease becomes more difficult.
First signs of gum disease is blood on the toothbrush after cleaning your teeth. leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Your breath may smell unpleasant.
What do I do?
Visit your dentist for a thorough check-up of your teeth and gums. The dentist will take measurements around the gum and pockets around each tooth to see if there is any sign that periodontal disease has started. X-rays may also be needed to see the amount of bone that has been lost. This assessment is very important, so the correct treatment can be started.
Treatment for Gum Disease
Your teeth and gums need to be cleaned thoroughly to remove the plaque (de-scaling, root planing). You will be advised on shown use of correct dental aids to remove plaque successfully yourself (e.g. electric toothbrush, inter-dental brushes, flossing,mouthrinses), cleaning all surfaces of your teeth thoroughly and effectively. This may take a number of visits with the dentist or hygienist
Once your teeth are clean, it maybe necessary further cleaning of the roots of the teeth, to make sure that the pockets of bacteria are removed. This is known as root planing.
The periodontal diseases can be controlled, you must make sure you remove plaque every day, and go for regular visits to the dentist and hygienist.
Your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to recommend a toothbrush suitable for you. However, adults should choose a small to medium size brush with soft to medium multi-tufted,The head should be small enough to reach into all parts of the mouth. Children need to use smaller brushes but with the same type of filaments.
An electric brush often better as it has a rotating or vibrating head, which provides a large amount of cleaning action with very little movement needed from you, although you do need to position the brush correctly.
Interdental cleaning is also important to remove plaque in between your teeth, where your normal tooth brush is unable to reach.