WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?
Periodontal disease refers to disease of the supporting tissues, i.e. the gums and bone, surrounding each tooth. A Periodontist is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease.
The most common periodontal conditions are gingivitis and periodontitis, both of which are caused by dental plaque and tartar. Dental plaque is the sticky, colourless film that constantly forms on your teeth and contains bacteria which normally inhabit the mouth. Tartar is hardened plaque which is more difficult to remove with simple brushing alone.
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. It is common but is readily treatable with good oral hygiene.
Periodontitis affects approximately 10-15% of the population and is inflammation which extends to form a pocket between the tooth and the infected gums. Periodontitis can manifest itself by swollen and reddened or bleeding gums even on light contact, oversensitive teeth or bad breath.
Without treatment the periodontal disease gets progressively worse and the bone attaching the teeth in the jaw is lost. As a result the teeth become loose and drift slightly from their original position. If left untreated this condition can result in your teeth eventually falling out. The gums may also recede down the roots of the tooth leading to increased sensitivity.
Several major factors are known to contribute to the increased risk of periodontal disease. These include family history, certain types of bacterial dental plaque, diabetes, stress and smoking. Stopping smoking is an important component in reducing the risk of developing periodontal disease and improving an the response to treatment.
There is mounting scientific evidence linking periodontitis to diabetes, heart disease and a host of other systemic diseases. It is therefore important not only for your oral health but also your general health, to have treatment for any gum disease present.
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
Treatments offered include:
- Surgical and non-surgical treatment of gum and bone disease
- Periodontal bone regeneration
- Crown lengthening for cosmetic dentistry
- Periodontal plastic surgery for root coverage
If the periodontitis is not too advanced, treatment essentially consists of removal of the bacterial plaque and tartar which has spread down the root of the tooth below the gums.
The initial consultation includes a careful examination of your gums and teeth, oral cancer screen and comprehensive radiographs(x-ray). A detailed treatment plan will be formulated specifically for you.
The first stage of treatment involves teaching the patient techniques to improve their dental hygiene. The second stage would be to stabilise the disease by professional cleaning of teeth both above and below the gum to remove the plaque and tartar from poorly accessible areas.
In the majority of cases simple conservative (non-surgical) therapy stabilises the periodontal disease. In more advanced cases periodontal surgery may be required to deal with deep-seated areas of inflammation and in some cases we may be able to regenerate some of the bone that has been lost.
If you have already lost a tooth or teeth to periodontal disease, you may be want to consider dental implants as a permanent tooth replacement option.
It is essential that the improvements achieved are maintained. I strongly advise my patients to visit their dentist and dental hygienist at regular intervals, generally 3-4 months. Here at Birmingham Dental Specialists we provide maintenance therapy but we would like to encourage a shared care approach whereby the maintenance therapy is carried out in conjunction with their referring dentist and dental hygienist. The most important factor in maintaining excellent gum health is effective daily plaque removal.
THE KEY TO SUCCESS
- You play an important role in the success of the treatment
- Meticulous plaque control is essential to maintain stability
- A maintenance programme which will include collaboration between your dentist, hygienist and your specialist.
PERIODONTAL PLASTIC SURGERY
Periodontal procedures are also available for cosmetic dentistry to improve the appearance of your gum line.
CROWN LENGTHENING SURGERY
A “gummy” smile may result when your teeth appear short because they are covered with too much gum tissue. To correct this, your periodontist removes excess gum and bone tissue is reshaped to expose more of the natural tooth. This can be done to one tooth, to even your gum line, or to several teeth to expose a natural, broad smile.
ROOT RECOVERY SURGERY
On the other hand, you may have a tooth or teeth that appear long with exposed roots (gum recession) and associated sensitivity. Gum graft surgery and other root coverage procedures are designed to cover exposed roots, to reduce further gum recession and to protect vulnerable roots from decay .