Facts, Prevention and Treatment
Gum disease is the inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria which can lead to bleeding gums, bad breath and bone loss around the teeth. Gum disease affects 7 out of 10 Canadian adults, making it the most common oral disease. It has been connected with heart disease, stroke, and miscarriage. In severe cases, gum disease will lead to tooth loss.
*The good news is that gum disease is preventable and treatable!*
Gingivitis - In the early stage of gum disease, plaque builds up along the gum line and between the teeth and causes inflammation (swelling) of the gums. This is called gingivitis. Gingivitis can be painless so you may not notice you have it. Sometimes you may feel swelling and tenderness or see bleeding on brushing or flossing. Gingivitis is reversible with good oral hygiene and regular professional cleanings with our hygienists.
Periodontitis - Untreated gingivitis may advance to periodontitis. This form of gum disease is serious as it leads to irreversible damage to your gums and supporting bone. The bone shrinks around your teeth leaving pockets where bacteria can easily collect and grow.
Signs of periodontitis are chonic bleeding gums, receeding gums, teeth looking longer, large gaps between the teeth and chronic bad breath. In the advanced stage, the teeth will become loose and eventually fall out. Periodontitis doesn't happen to everyone, but there are some important risk factors that make it more likely.
If any of these risk factors are a part of your life, be sure to speak to us. We can discuss a treatment plan that can help prevent or halt the progression of your gum disease.
- Lifestyle: Poor oral hygiene (read more...), bad diet, smoking, recreational drug use
- Health: Diabetes, Pregnancy, Hormonal variation, Immunocompromised
- Family: Genetics (family history of tooth loss), Down's syndrome
- Dental: Crowded teeth (read more...), fixed ortho retainers, crowns/bridges/implants
- Medications: epilepsy drugs, anti-depressants etc
Gum disease is a preventable. For optimum gum health, a combination of meticulous at-home care, reduction of lifestyle factors and regular visits to the hygienist are recommended. At your hygiene visit, we will record detailled information about your health status of your gums (pocket measurements, recession, bleeding, inflammation) and based on this report will suggest a customized treatment plan and at-home routine that will optimize your gum health. Your regular cleaning will involve scaling of the tooth to remove calculus (tartar), polishing to reduce stain and flouride treatment to reduce your risk of tooth decay. Regular professional cleaning is recommended for all children and adults to prevent gum disease.
Gingivitis (early stage) can be easily treated by a combination of professional cleaning, known as non-surgical gum therapy, in conjunction with meticulous at-home care. Non-surgical gum therapy by the hygienist involves thorough cleaning above and below the gumline by scaling and root planing. In some cases localized anti-microbial medication may be recommended. These techniques remove harmful bacteria and toxins from your gums and allow your tissues to heal properly.
Periodontitis (advanced stage) requires a comprehensive and systematic plan of care. The primary objective of treatment is to slow down progression of damage to the gum and bone surrounding the teeth. This involves monitoring change with regular probing, frequent professional deep cleanings (scaling and deep root planing) as well as meticulous oral hygiene (plaque control) and elimination of lifestyle risk factors (e.g. smoking). Depending on the level of bone loss, you may be recommended to see a specialist periodontist to discuss surgical options such as bone and tissue grafts to regenerate lost bone and gum tissue.