Periodontal disease (also known as Periodontitis, Perio or Gum Disease) is an infection of the gums and bone, caused by bacteria that live in the mouth.
Left untreated, this infection continues to destroy the bone around the teeth and inflaming the gum tissue.
Signs of periodontal disease can include any of the following:
- Bleeding gums
- Gums can look dark pink, red or purple
- Heavy mineral buildup (calculus or tartar) on the teeth and below the gums
- Receding gums and exposed tooth root areas
- Teeth able to be moved back & forth with tongue or finger pressure
- Bad breath
- Bad taste in mouth
- Gums may or may not be sore - Don’t wait for pain!
More than just your teeth!
Research has shown relationships between active periodontal disease and many general health concerns, such as:
- Heart Disease, Atherosclerosis & greater intensity of heart attacks
- Kidney failure
- Low birth weight babies
- Lung infections / respiratory disease
Gingivitis or Periodontal Disease - Is there a difference?
Yes! Gingivitis can be the starting point for future Periodontal Disease. In Gingivitis the gum tissue reacts to the bacteria, leaving the gums red, swollen and bleeding when touched, however the supporting bone remains unchanged. The longer you have gingivitis, the greater the risk of the bone being destroyed and progressing to Periodontal Disease.
How does the dentist/hygienist diagnose it?
During your examination appointment, the dentist or hygienist will assess you gums and the bone surrounding the teeth in various ways.
- Xrays are important to help see the extent of the lost bone and therefore the ‘pockets’ of space around the teeth. Xrays also help us to see where the large, solid calculus (tartar) deposits are located on the roots of the teeth, below the gumline.
- We also measure the depth of those ‘pockets’ using a special ruler instrument called a Periodontal Probe.
- Healthy gums: 1-3mm
- Early Periodontal Disease: 4mm
- Moderate Periodontal Disease: 5-6mm
- Advanced Periodontal Disease: 6mm
- Often we will record those measurements into our record system so we can check for healing or disease worsening at future appointments.
- Other things we will take note of are: gum bleeding, acute infection/pus, movement in the teeth / “mobility”, gum soreness, halitosis / ‘bad breath’.
Treatment - Can my teeth be saved?
Periodontal Disease can be controllable, but not curable.
At Dimos Dental, our Dental Hygiene Team are your first line of defence against periodontal disease. Dental Hygienists are clinicians who are specially trained to assess, diagnose, treat and manage periodontal disease. This care is called Active Periodontal Therapy and is non-surgical and the least invasive option for disease management.
Depending on the extent of the bone loss and calculus (tartar) buildup, active periodontal therapy can range from 1 up to 4 appointments to treat the entire mouth. In these appointments, your hygienist aims to remove all of the calculus, plaque and debris from the teeth and below the gums, to allow your body to then heal and stabilise.
After the initial round of periodontal therapy, we will review and reassess your gums 8 weeks later.
- As this appointment we reassess your ‘pocket’ measurements to see, ideally, how much they have improved! We will likely also perform a ‘fine clean’ at this appointment, however treatment is decided as per individual needs on the day.
- If at this review and reassess appointment some areas have not responded enough to the treatment, we may recommend re-treating the areas with either periodontal therapy or laser therapy.
Please keep in mind, that should we feel that your Periodontal Disease would be best managed by a specialist, that will be discussed with you in detail and a referral offered immediately.
Maintenance - Keeping you healthy!
When it comes to periodontal disease, both patient and dental professionals need to work together as a team to maintain your periodontal health.
Successfully controlling periodontal disease is achieved by attending 3 Month Periodontal Maintenance Appointments. The bacteria that causes periodontal disease reestablishes 3 months after treatment. Waiting longer than 3 to 4 months may result in increased pocket depths and further loss of bone.
The dental hygienist will assess your individual needs for periodontal home care plan. The aim of periodontal home care is… to remove all of the plaque and food debris! Did you know: It only takes 24 hours for plaque that is left on the teeth to turn in to calculus (tartar)! By removing as much plaque and food debris as possible, it will mean that instead of your gums and immune system constantly fighting off bacterial attacks, they can actually heal and maintain that balance each day.
Getting the right tool for the job!
While in the past you may have been using a manual toothbrush and floss, there now are various useful tools that might serve you better when it comes to maintaining periodontal health, such as:
- Interdental Brushes eg. Piksters or Tepe
- Electric Toothbrush
- Soft or Extra-Soft Electric Toothbrush heads
- Waterjet cleaner eg. Waterpik
- Threadable expanding floss eg. Superfloss or X-Floss