Periodontal disease is the infection and inflammation of the gums, which hold the tooth in place. Periodontal disease is very common, in up to 40% of the adult population. Unfortunately, many patients with periodontal disease are unaware of it, as it can be completely painless and the only symptom being bleeding when brushing or flossing. In fact, the first time you experience pain from periodontal disease, we often need to remove the tooth.
Periodontal disease is caused by plaque, which is a sticky bacterial biofilm attached to the teeth. If plaque is left, it can calcify to become calculus. Plaque is able to be removed with excellent oral hygiene, but calculus removal requires a professional clean. Once the teeth have been cleaned, Lou will show you how to minimise plaque and calculus building up using tooth brushing, floss and interdental cleaning brushes.
The earliest stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis, which is bleeding and swollen gums. We have all had this condition at some stage in our lives, and it can be successfully treated by removing the plaque and calculus, followed by maintaining a clean mouth.
The more advanced stage of gum disease is called periodontitis. Periodontitis generally involves destruction of the gums and bone that support the teeth. As the bone and gums shrink away, the teeth can become mobile or sensitive to cold. This is because the roots of the teeth are now exposed in the mouth. The tooth roots are not covered with enamel, so are far more sensitive to temperature and also more prone to dental decay.
The signs of periodontal disease can include swollen and bleeding gums, gums that have shrunk back from the tooth (teeth appearing longer), bad taste in the mouth, persistent halitosis, abscesses on the gums, and teeth which are loose or appear to be drifting.
Treatment of periodontal disease will involve a deeper cleaning of the teeth, and may require the area to be numb. Some patients will need to be referred to a specialist periodontist for further treatment.