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How do I improve the health of my mouth?
Gum (Periodontal) Disease
The early detection of gum disease is an important part of our practice. When detected early the treatment is easy, inexpensive and successful. In many cases because gum disease(periodontal disease) is painless unless your dentist is looking for it, it can be missed and left untreated.
Early detection and excellent home care are extremely important in making sure the supporting structures for your teeth remain strong for the whole of your life. Keep reading to check on your periodontal health.
Have I got gum disease?
- Everyone wants to look and feel our best! Having beautiful teeth makes a good first impression on others. An important part of your self esteem is your smile. A beautiful smile, sparkling teeth and fresh breath are important assets for business and your personal life. Unfortunately, periodontal (gum) disease can destroy your confidence in your teeth and your health.
- Mouth odour and unsightly gums can actually cause others to distance them from you and change how they view you and your capabilities.
- By age 35, three out of four adults have some form of gum disease.
- Gum disease can occur at any age, but recent studies indicate a greater risk after age 35 and for some can start in their twenties .
- This insidious disease is painless and if untreated will effect the gums and bone surrounding your teeth and may eventually lead to tooth loss.
Figure 1 shows healthy gums whereas figure 2 shows red areas along the gum margin and accumulation of soft plaque. As you can see to the untrained eye there is not a lot of difference and that is where the problem lies. A disease that is insidious, mostly painless and doesn't look too bad but can progress without creating any major issues until there is irreversible damage done. Your dentist should pick up a probe and check your gums and ask about your oral hygiene habits.
How can you avoid gum disease and its unpleasant consequences? The answer is simple. Exercise good judgment -- brush properly and use some device to clean in between your teeth every day. Also, see your dentist for regular check-ups and professional cleaning. If you have not yet done this then start today with a visit to your dentist. If periodontal disease is treated in the early stages, the process can be reversed or at the least halted.
What are the stages of gum disease?
There are two stages of gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis.
- The first, gingivitis, is an inflammation of the gums caused by plaque which is an accumulation of millions of bacteria and their by-products. The gums become reddish, swollen and bleed upon brushing/ touching. If 100% plaque is not removed every day, it eventually hardens into calculus (tartar ) by absorbing minerals from your saliva. Once calculus forms it can only be removed by your dentist or hygienist with special instruments. Gingivitis is totally reversible and curable with treatment from your dentist, followed by proper brushing and flossing at home. Please look at our detailed instructions on toothbrush technique and cleaning between your teeth techniques to make sure that your brushing technique is correct and you can maintain your healthy gums.
- If not corrected, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis. It is very difficult to tell if your gingivitis has progressed to periodontitis because it is painless process. It is very important for you to visit your dentist so a correct diagnosis can be made. At this stage, only treatment by your dentist can control the disease. The calculus itself will prevent your oral hygiene techniques from working properly, because the calculus prevents access of bristles to the needed areas. Bacteria in & around the calculus produces toxins and volatile sulphur compounds. The sulphur compounds are often the cause of bad breath. Toxins cause the gum to be inflamed and then as a result detach from the tooth surface and the bone dissolves from around the root of the tooth leading to the development of a periodontal(gum) pocket. The spaces or crevices in healthy gums are normally 1 to 3mm deep depending on the site. Any pocket of 4mm or more needs treatment by a dentist to prevent it from getting deeper. If left untreated it will painlessly progress deeper and deeper. If the pocket progresses beyond 5mm it is known as moderate periodontal disease. The deeper it gets the harder it is to treat.
Even teeth that look healthy can be hiding pockets where bone is being destroyed.
- To evaluate for hidden gum disease your dentist will recommend x-rays and periodontal probing and/or periodontal charting. The periodontal probe is a special instrument for measuring the pocket depth around each tooth. Periodontal disease is rarely confined to one tooth. It usually involves several teeth and may affect all of them.
- If your pockets are 5mm or less your dentist will suggest treatment involving special scaling of your teeth over several visits. At completion of this treatment, the dentist will re-probe your gums to evaluate the results. If the pockets decrease to a depth of 1-3mm, the periodontitis may be under control.
- Even after the most thorough scaling carried out by your dentist it is just as important that your home care is excellent. There needs to be a combined effort to achieve improvements in the health of your gums.
If there is no improvement or if your original pockets are in excess of 6mm (advanced periodontitis) your dentist may recommend periodontal surgery. Your dentist may perform the procedure or refer you to a gum specialist called a periodontist. The surgical procedure is performed to remove diseased tissue, eliminate pockets, allow access for better home care and allow the dentist to thoroughly clean the tooth structure. This makes it more difficult for plaque and calculus to accumulate. The gums are repositioned around the teeth, usually at a lower level than before the procedure in order to eliminate the pockets. Now you can keep the area free of plaque with daily brushing and flossing or pikster use.
Please give us a call 9908 3466 and we would look forward to making sure your gums are in great condition and help you to prevent any development of gingivitis or periodontal disease.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding with a surgical or invasive procedure, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
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New patients welcome.
Suite 103, 156 Military Rd
Neutral Bay 2089
P.O. Box 602, Neutral Bay 2089