Periodontal (Gum) Disease
The type of treatment depends on your individual condition. If your Periodontal disease is in its early stages, you may have red swollen, painful bleeding gums, and some loose teeth or teeth that have moved position. Receding gums may have lead to sensitive teeth. You may already have some bone loss around your teeth and may have had gum-boils or abscesses. Often oral hygiene instruction along with scaling and root-planing under local anaesthetic may be all that’s needed. This is a Non-Surgical Therapy that removes plaque and hard deposits of tartar from the roots of the teeth below the gumline. Root surfaces are cleaned and smoothed with specially-designed instruments. It is important to remove the plaque and tartar from the periodontal pockets because they contain the bacterial toxins that irritate the gums.
Moderate to more advanced Periodontal Disease may require Surgical Therapy also usually carried out under local anaesthetic. The goals of this treatment are to remove calculus from deep pockets around the teeth, shrink the pockets, smooth root surfaces and arrange gum tissue into a shape that will be easier to keep clean. There are also procedures to regenerate bone and supporting tissues previously lost to Periodontal Disease, involving the use of bone grafts and / or regenerative membranes. These techniques restore and strengthen the support of the teeth so they can function for longer. This type of surgery is only appropriate in certain shapes of bony defects, and will be suggested if it is appropriate. Surgery is usually under Local Analgesia, but an Anaesthetist can provide Sedation if required.
As well as local anaesthetics, we can also arrange conscious sedation for nervous patients.
A Specialist in Periodontics is trained to deal with many varieties of gum disease and can also carry out gum grafting at teeth with severe gum recession (Periodontal Plastic Surgery). Other treatments may include Splinting loose teeth to firm teeth, Crown-lengthening surgery, Occlusal Therapy and Osseous Surgery. Whatever your treatment plan entails, our goal is to bring you to a state of good oral health, and then help you maintain it.
Besides fresh breath, a renewed confidence in your smile, restored oral health and a new sense of health and well-being, you’ll be able to chew your food more easily and enjoy foods you avoided because they were to difficult to eat. Years ago, people accepted tooth loss as part of getting older. You don’t have to. With help from your general dentist and Specialist, plus your own dedication to good oral hygiene, you could keep your teeth for a lifetime.
The cost of periodontal treatment will vary depending upon your needs and the fees reflect the high quality of care provided to ensure your total peace of mind. After the consultation and explanation of the appropriate treatment, you will be provided with an estimate of the cost. The consultation fee includes a full diagnostic report to your dentist. Unless your Dentist provides relevant dental radiographs (X-rays), these will be required at extra cost. These will be used to see how much of the bone support at each tooth has been lost. As you consider this health investment, keep in mind that treating gum disease is less costly and better for your health than replacing lost teeth, lost to untreated gum disease.
Does it Hurt?
Improved equipment, local anaesthetics and modern techniques make periodontal treatment more comfortable now than ever before. Effective medications (although often not necessary) are available to give you comfort after treatment. As with other aspects of periodontal treatment, considerations for your comfort during and after treatment will be tailored to best suit your individual needs.
Just because you have started to see a Specialist in Periodontics doesn’t mean you should stop seeing your general dentist. Once your treatment is complete, you’ll still need to work hard on a daily basis to maintain your oral health, by cleaning your teeth as instructed. Because Periodontal Disease can recur even after active treatment, it is very important to professionally monitor your oral health to fend off any signs of disease. Your Specialist and general dentist will work together to co-ordinate your maintenance plan following periodontal treatment.
Common questions on Gum Disease
Q. What is gum disease?
A. Gum disease describes swelling, soreness or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. There are two main forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Q. What is gingivitis?
A. Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. This is when the gums around the teeth become very red and swollen. Often the swollen gums bleed when they are brushed during cleaning.
Q. What is periodontal disease?
A. Long-standing gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease. There are a number of types of periodontal disease and they all affect the tissues supporting the teeth. As the disease gets worse the bone anchoring the teeth in the jaw is lost, making the teeth loose. If this is not treated, the teeth may eventually fall out.
Q. Am I likely to suffer from gum disease?
A. Probably. Most people suffer from some form of gum disease, and it is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. However, the disease develops very slowly in most people, and it can be slowed down to a rate that should allow you to keep most of your teeth for life.
Q. What is the cause of gum disease?
A. All gum disease is caused by plaque. Plaque is a film of bacteria, which forms on the surface of the teeth and gums every day. Many of the bacteria in plaque are completely harmless, but there are some that have been shown to be the main cause of gum disease. To prevent and treat gum disease, you need to make sure you remove all the plaque from your teeth every day. This is done by brushing and flossing.
Q. What happens if gum disease is not treated?
A. Unfortunately, gum disease progresses painlessly on the whole so that you do notice the damage it is doing. However, the bacteria are sometimes more active and this makes your gums sore. This can lead to gum abscesses, and pus may ooze from around the teeth. Over a number of years, the bone supporting the teeth can be lost. If the disease is left untreated for a long time, treatment can become more difficult.
Q. How do I know if I have gum disease?
A. The first sign is blood on the toothbrush or in the rinsing water when you clean your teeth. Your gums may also bleed when you are eating, leaving a bad taste in your mouth. Your breath may also become unpleasant.
Q. What do I do if I think I have gum disease?
A. The first thing to do is visit your dentist for a thorough check-up of your teeth and gums. The dentist can measure the ‘cuff’ of gum around each tooth to see if there is any sign that periodontal disease has started. X-rays may also be needed to see the amount of bone that has been lost. This assessment is very important, so the correct treatment can be prescribed for you.
Q. What treatments are needed?
A. Your dentist or hygienist will usually give your teeth a thorough clean. You’ll also be shown how to remove plaque successfully yourself, cleaning all surfaces of your teeth thoroughly and effectively. This may take a number of sessions with the dentist or hygienist.
Q. What else may be needed?
A. If gum problems still persist your dentist may decide to refer you to a Specialist in Periodontics, a dentist who has specialized in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of Gum Diseases. Periodontology is an entire branch of dentistry dedicated to studying the tissues surrounding the teeth and researching new techniques for treating these diseases. During special training, over 3 to 4 years, Specialists in Periodontics learn the very latest techniques for diagnosing and treating Periodontal Diseases, gaining a detailed scientific background on all aspects.
The Specialist may carry out further deep cleaning of the roots of the teeth under the gums, to make sure that the last reservoirs of bacteria are removed.
The treatment area will be numbed before anything is done. Afterwards, you may feel some discomfort for up to 48 hour. Severe or persistent periodontal problems may require Periodontal Surgery, but your Specialist will fully explain the procedure, the benefits and expected outcome to you so you can decide if you wish to save your teeth.
Q. Once I have had periodontal disease, can I get it again?
A. Periodontal disease is never cured. But as long as you keep up the home care you have been taught, any further loss of bone will be very slow and it may stop altogether. However, you must make sure you remove plaque every day, and go for regular check ups to the dentist, hygienist and your periodontist.