Gum & Bone Health
Periodontal treatment (gums)
Healthy gums are an important part of oral health, and contribute significantly to the stability of your teeth and bite, and the beauty of your smile.
Unfortunately, periodontal disease (disease of the gums and bone that hold the teeth) is too common even though it is very preventable.
Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease, and is an infection of the gums and jaw bone surrounding your teeth. It is estimated that over 80% of people have some level of periodontal disease. Gum disease is one of the top reasons for tooth loss in adults, and because it is virtually pain free, many patients do not know they have this infection. During your regular checkup and hygiene visits, your dentist and dental hygienist will check for signs of periodontal disease by assessing the colour, consistency and texture and shape of your gums, noting if there is bleeding of the gums, measuring gum recession, and measuring the space between your teeth and gums (“periodontal pockets” or “probing depths”).
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque (a filmy deposit on the surface of a tooth consisting of a mixture of oral fluid, bacteria, and food). If the plaque is not removed (by flossing, brushing, and regular dental checkups), it will continue to build up and create toxins that can damage the gums. Periodontal disease forms just below the gum line, and creates small pockets that separate the gums from the teeth. Periodontal disease has two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Gingivitis – This is the early stage of gum disease, when the gums become red, swollen, and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is treatable and can usually be eliminated by daily brushing and flossing.
- Periodontitis – If left untreated, gingivitis will advance into periodontitis, and the gums and bone that support the teeth will become seriously and irreversibly damaged. Gums and jaw bone infected with periodontitis can cause teeth to become loose, fall out, or need to be removed by a dentist.
Certain factors can increase a patient’s risk of developing periodontal disease, including:
- Smoking or using chewing tobacco
- Certain types of medication such as steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Crooked teeth
- Old fillings
Gum disease can make other conditions worse, including increased risk of heart disease, respiratory infections, stroke, diabetes, preterm labour and having a low birth baby.
While it is possible to have periodontal disease and not know it, some symptoms can include:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Any change in the fit of partial dentures
Treating gum disease
Treatments for gum disease can vary depending on the severity of each individual case. Typical treatments include:
- Non-surgical treatments, including at-home periodontal trays, and scaling and root planning (deep cleaning)
- Periodontal surgery and laser gum surgery
- Dental implants
- Adjunctive mouth rinses (prescription and non-prescription) and antibiotics (intrasulcular and oral)
Preventing gum disease
Regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are important for maintaining your health and the health of your smile. You don’t have to lose teeth to periodontal disease, and by practicing good oral hygiene at home, you can significantly reduce your chances of ever getting gum disease. Remember to not smoke, brush regularly, clean between your teeth, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits to help keep your smile healthy.