• What Is Gum Disease?

    What is gum disease?

    Your teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Whether you call it Periodontal Disease, Pyorrhea, or just Gum Disease, it is a major cause of tooth loss in our population. But gum disease is largely preventable.

    Your gums are called the supporting tissues of your teeth, and actually consist of what can be seen in the mouth, as well as the bone, the root surface and the ligament that connects the teeth to the bone.

    Gum disease is a form of infection in the supporting tissues of your teeth and because it is often painless most people are unaware that they have it.

    What causes gum disease?

    Bacteria is the cause of most gum disease; which form a ‘plaque’ on and around your teeth, especially around the gum line. Plaque is sticky and colourless. There are other bacteria, that thrive deep in the ‘pocket’; the gap between the gum and the tooth.

    One of the major risk factors for developing gum disease is smoking. Other contributing factors are conditions such as diabetes, stress, pregnancy and a variety of medications.

    One of the most common types of gum disease is called Gingivitis which is caused by an infection affecting the surface tissues . This can develop and become pyorrhea (now called Periodontitis) which affects the deeper supporting tissues.

    With appropriate care, the effects of Gingivitis are mostly reversible, unless the Gingivitis has progressed to periodontitis. This causes permanent damage to the ligament and bone that supports and holds the teeth. If a pocket develops between the gum and the tooth, the infection now has a protected environment for more bacteria and the condition becomes worse. Periodontitis can cause abscesses and tooth loss if untreated.

    Can gum disease be treated successfully?

    Yes. With appropriate care, to which most cases respond well to oral hygiene therapy. However, the more advanced the disease, the more difficult it is to treat. Make sure you have pay regular visits to your dentist to check for the possible presence of gum disease.

    To manage gum disease, the level of bacteria in the mouth must be reduced a level which is manageable by the body’s own defence mechanism.

    To avoid periodontitis/gum disease, follow these simple steps:

    1. Apply the very best home care methods.
    2. Professional cleaning by your dentist who can remove the plaque and calculus/tartar.
    3. Regular dental review.
    4. Removing risk factors such as smoking.

    Because gum disease causes permanent damage in some cases, the aim of treatment is to control the bacteria. This is a daily, lifetime activity.

    Your dentist is trained in managing gum disease and will probably refer you to a dental hygienist for a daily management plan. If your dentist feels your condition needs more care, you will be referred to a Periodontist.

    Prevention is better than cure. See your dentist regularly, because gum disease can be prevented by good oral hygiene and early intervention.

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