The most common periodontal conditions are gingivitis and periodontitis, both of which are caused by dental plaque. Plaque consists almost entirely of bacteria which normally inhabit the mouth. Gingivitis is inflammation of the gum and is common but readily reversible with good oral hygiene. Periodontitis affects approximately 10-15% of the population and is inflammation which extends to destroy the deeper supporting tissues of the tooth eventually leading to tooth loss. The signs and symptoms of both conditions vary but include bleeding gums, mobility and drifting of the teeth – it is however possible to be suffering from gum disease without exhibiting these signs.
Susceptibility to destructive periodontal disease is not fully understood but four major factors are known to contribute to these conditions. These are family history, certain types of bacteria in plaque, stress and smoking. Stopping smoking is an important component in reducing the risk of developing periodontal disease and improving an individual's response to treatment.
Diagnosis & Treatment
An initial consultation includes a detailed examination, comprehensive X-rays, detailed discussion and formulation of a treatment strategy. This may involve co-ordinating some parts of the treatment with your general dental practitioner.
The first stage of treatment aims to stabilise the disease by removing the major causes, particularly dental plaque from poorly accessible areas beneath the gums. Patients are given advice with regard to the daily regime required to remove plaque from the tooth-gum junction. In more advanced cases periodontal surgery may be required to deal with deep-seated areas of inflammation and to recontour the detached gum. Surgical techniques to regain lost support may be utilised where indicated. Periodontal surgery may also be used to treat areas of gum recession re-covering exposed root surfaces to improve aesthetics and/or reduce sensitivity in some individuals.
Maintaining the improvements after treatment is essential and patients are strongly advised to visit their specialist or a dental hygienist at regular intervals. This may be arranged in conjunction with your general dental practitioner according to individual requirements. The most important factor in maintaining gum health is the daily removal of plaque from the tooth-gum junction.