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FAQs about Gum Disease

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal (gum) disease is a bacterial infection of the tissues that support the teeth and hold them in place. The primary cause of periodontal disease is bacteria that accumulate on the tooth surface and form a sticky, colourless film called “bacterial plaque”. Toxins produced by bacteria in plaque irritate the gums, which become red, tender and swollen, and they are then more likely to bleed, because they are inflamed. This condition is called gingivitis.

What is the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?

In patients susceptible to periodontal disease, if gingivitis remains untreated, it propagates to the underlying tissues. The produced toxins and enzymes destroy the supporting bone. Gums detach from the tooth surface and pockets are formed that can fill with plaque populated by more destructive anaerobic bacteria. This condition is called periodontitis and unless treated, the affected teeth are likely to become loose and can eventually be lost prematurely.

Periodontitis is the most common chronic inflammatory disease in humans.

What is Calculus (Tartar)?

If bacterial plaque is not removed from the tooth surface by thorough brushing, it calcifies and becomes a hard, rough and porous deposit called “calculus” or “tartar”. The presence of calculus on the tooth surface encourages the growth of bacterial plaque.

What is the Cause of Periodontal Disease?

The primary cause of periodontal disease is the presence of virulent (very harmful) bacteria that usually develop in anaerobic conditions, combined with the individual’s susceptibility to periodontal disease.

Does Periodontal Disease Affect General Health?
Periodontal Disease and Diabetes

Patients with diabetes Type I and Type II are three times more likely to develop periodontal disease, while patients with periodontitis are at a higher risk of diabetes. It is more complicated to control diabetes when the patient is also suffering from periodontitis, while patients with both diseases are at a higher risk of severe medical complications.

Periodontal Disease and Cardiovascular Disease

There is scientific evidence to support a relationship between periodontal disease and increased risk of episodes of cardiovascular disease.

Periodontitis and Pregnancy

The presence of periodontitis in a pregnant woman may increase the risk of premature birth and of giving birth to an underweight child.

Periodontal Disease Risk Factors

Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease

  • Smoking
  • Systemic conditions that impair the immune system, such as diabetes, HIV etc
  • Stress
  • Specific categories of medications, such as antihypertensives, immunosuppressants and anticonvulsant medications
  • Hormonal changes, as noted during puberty, pregnancy and menopause
Periodontics

Signs and Symptoms of
Periodontal Disease

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

Debridement Surgical Intervention Supportive Periodontal Therapy
Debridement

Non-Surgical Debridement (Removal of Plaque and Tartar)

The initial aim of periodontal treatment is to arrest the progression of the disease by controlling the infection under the gums. This can be achieved by thorough non-surgical debridement, which involves thorough : removal of bacterial plaque and calculus (tartar), above and under the gums.

An integral part of periodontal treatment is teaching patients how to brush their teeth effectively. An excellent level of oral hygiene is essential to achieve favourable treatment Outcomes.

Surgical Intervention

Surgical Intervention

In more complex cases, surgical interventions allow us to correct the anatomical consequences of the disease. There are two main types of surgical intervention:

Non-regenerative periodontal surgery

The main objectives of this type of periodontal surgery is to eliminate residual subgingival infection, to further decrease the pocket depth and to establish favourable soft tissue anatomy that will help with self-performed oral hygiene.

Regenerative Periodontal Surgery

This aims at the true regeneration of the supporting periodontal tissues that were lost due to periodontal disease. The periodontist will decide whether biomaterials, host modulators or a combination of the two should be used. These products will help regenerate lost tissues.

Supportive Periodontal Therapy

Supportive Periodontal Therapy (Maintenance)

This aims at supporting the patient’s ongoing efforts to maintain treatment outcomes and ensure long-term periodontal (gum) health. This can be achieved, if patients follow our tailor-made maintenance programme for professional cleaning.

Debridement Surgical Intervention Supportive Periodontal Therapy
Consequences of Avoiding Treatment

Gum disease is not a problem that will go away and , if left untreated, there can be severe consequences.

Periodontal disease is a major cause of premature tooth loss, - which can have functional, psychological and financial implications for the patient.

Untreated gum problems can affect a patient’s general health. Scientific evidence suggests a relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cosmetic Periodontal Surgery
Crown Lengthening

A surgical procedure used:

  • When there is tooth decay or tooth fracture that extends beyond the gum line, in order to expose sound tooth structure to facilitate restoration (filling) or crown placement.
  • When there is excessive display of gums that makes teeth look shorter, a condition known as “gummy smile”.
  • Prior to a major smile makeover procedure to help achieve a harmonious gumline, which is essential for an aesthetic smile.
Root Coverage

This is a surgical procedure used to correct single or multiple gingival (gum) recessions, which have been created as a result of improper brushing techniques (usually overbrushing) in patients with otherwise healthy gum structure. Depending on local factors, a soft tissue graft harvested from the palate may also be used.

Frenectomy

This is a surgical procedure utilised for the removal of an attachment called the frenulum that decreases the range of motion of the lips or of the tongue. In some patients, a labial frenectomy can close the gap between the front teeth.

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