Gum disease (periodontitis) is mostly caused by a build-up of plaque in the disease. It is sometimes an advanced form of Gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums.
Apart from plaque, periodontal disease is caused by among other factors, smoking, not brushing and flossing on a daily basis and genetic disposition, which puts those with kin who have developed periodontitis before at a higher risk of getting it.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare summarizes the nature of the disease as bacterial caused, where the bacteria affect the gums, deeper connective tissues and the jaw bone.
The Symptoms Are:
- Red, sensitive gums with swelling in most cases.
- Chronic halitosis
- Receding gums
- Deep pockets form in the lining between the teeth and gums, which may fill with pus.
- Bleeding gums when and after cleaning teeth.
- Shifting loose teeth.
- Change on how the teeth fit together when biting.
The Australian Dental Association explains the aim of treatment as to prevent advancement of the disease, and it is a lifelong activity. Treatment can be surgical or non-surgical according to The American Dental Association.
The aim of this process is to scrap off the plaque on the surface of the teeth. An instrument called a scaler is used, and in other cases, an electronic device (an ultrasonic/sonic scaler), is preferred because it is faster and makes the process more comfortable for a patient.
This is the scaling the root of the tooth rather than surface, to discourage buildup of tartar.
These drugs kill plaque-causing bacteria. They come in the form of mouth rinses or gels applied to the periodontal pockets to promote healing of the tissues and oral tablets to control bacterial infection. Antibiotics can be used as a cure for Gingivitis.
The two processes of scaling and root planing are commonly known as deep cleaning.These are used when a patient has a mild or average case of gum disease. No further treatment is usually needed when this process is exhaustive, and the patient only needs to maintain excellent oral hygiene practices afterwards, to make sure it does not recur.
Surgery is needed when non-surgical means do not heal the periodontal pockets created by plaque causing bacteria, or in the case of severe periodontitis.
The process is invasive as the surgeon has to reach below the gums to the root of the teeth where plaque and tartar have formed, and the bacteria have completely destroyed bone and tissue that holds the gum in place. It is interesting to note that tartar (calculus) a buildup of plaque, is harder than bone.
Bone and tissue grafts and gingival flap surgery are the most common types of surgeries.
Bone grafts rebuild or reshape the bones, while tissue grafts are used to fill in the place where the gum has receded and cover the roots or develop gum tissue.Tissue stimulatingproteins are also administered to encourage the body to regenerate lost tissue and bones.
Flap surgery reduces the depth of the pockets formed, therefore reducing the area that bacteria occupy. The procedure involves folding back of the gums to reach the root of the tooth. The tartar is cleaned then the pockets filled. The gums are then stitched back into place.