Gum disease or medically known as periodontal disease is characterized by an infection on the soft tissues that surround the teeth that act as support that hold the teeth together. It is a medical condition that requires the expertise of a periodontist or gum specialist. If no gum disease treatment follows, things can get from bad to worse pretty quickly.
Realizing that you suffer from such a condition can be daunting, and if you are not aware of the necessary steps to address it, it can lead to some serious medical conditions. This is why this article will help you have all the information you need to maintain a healthy mouth.
What are the symptoms and warning signs of gum disease?
When you feel that your gums are redder than usual and become swollen, then you might have gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. Other symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Bleeding gums (especially when brushing)
- Gums become tender and more sensitive
- Receding gum line
- Sensitive teeth
- Persistent bad breath
Periodontitis or advanced gum disease also exhibit the same symptoms with gingivitis but may have additional warning signs such as:
- Loose teeth
- Purplish gums
- Growth of pus in the gums
- A painful sensation when chewing
- Gaps developing between teeth
When to see a dentist?
When you start to observe the mentioned symptoms, immediately book a trip to the dentist’s office to have your gums checked. Early detection of gum disease can reduce the risk of damage and might even save you a lot of money from treatments, warns Dr Marlene Teo.
What causes gum disease?
1. Plaque Formation
The human mouth is full of bacteria and combined with mucus and various particles inside the mouth, together they form plaques, a sticky colourless film that sticks on the surface of the teeth. Typically, with proper hygiene (brushing at least twice a day and religious flossing), plaques can be removed from your teeth but with poor oral hygiene, plaques can build up and cause gum disease, especially gingivitis.
2. Tartar Formation
If not cleaned properly, extreme plaque build-up can harden and form on the base of gum lines. This hardened plaque is called tartar and can be more difficult to remove. Tartars are made up of bacteria and can cause serious damage to the gums and the underlying oral bone structure.
3. Persistent Gum Inflammation
Persistent gingivitis and gum irritation can lead to the development of serious forms of gum disease. It is characterised by “pockets” or formation of deep crevices in between gums and teeth that are filled with plaque and tartar. If left untreated, these pockets can grow deeper and deeper and be filled with more and more bacteria and cause deep-rooted infections to the soft tissues and bones that hold the teeth in place. This infection leads to degradation of the supporting structure and may lead to tooth loss.
What are the available treatment options for gum disease?
Generally, gum disease treatment methods are classified into two groups:
1. Non-Surgical Treatments
For mild forms of gum disease, surgery isn’t necessarily required for treatment. Simple dental procedures and treatments can be enough to treat them. These treatments may include:
- Scaling and Root Planing
These procedures entail removal of plaque build-up from the teeth surface and deep pockets at gum lines. These procedures can be done with the use of lasers or dental instruments in-office.
After scaling and root planning procedures, delivery of antibiotics to target areas are generally required to control the growth of bacteria. These antibiotics need a prescription from your dentist.
- Tray delivery system
Tray delivery system works by fitting customized dental trays to the patient’s teeth. These trays contain further medication and maintenance therapy to prevent the recurring of plaque build-up and restore gum health.
2. Dental Surgery
For more advanced forms of gum diseases, a dental surgical procedure may be required to treat the damaged gums and underlying bone structure. Briefly, these are the different surgical treatments for gum disease:
- Gum and bone grafting procedures to replace damaged tissues and bone structure
- Flap surgery or reduction of pocket depth by surgically folding back the gum tissue and removing tartar build-up before securing the tissue back in place
- Regenerative treatments like tissue regeneration and application of tissue-stimulating proteins to stimulate regeneration of lost bone and sum tissue and reverse some of the damage caused by gum disease
Who can administer treatment for gum diseases?
Dr Marlene Teo stresses the importance of having your problem addressed by a professional.
1. Dentist or Dental Hygienist
When you find out that you have gum disease, do not fret as there are a variety of treatment options that can help you get rid of tartar build-up and reduce the damage and restore healthy gums. For routine cleaning of teeth and gums, your dentists or dental hygienist can help you have cleaner teeth and gums.
2. A periodontist or Gum Disease Specialist
There are experts that you can turn to that are specialized in handling gum diseases. These specialists are called periodontists and they are well-trained in the appropriate treatment procedures ranging from non-surgical treatments to surgical interventions to help you overcome gum diseases ad prevent them from ever coming back.