Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss for Australian adults. An infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place (the jaw bone and gums), gum disease ranges from gingivitis, a simple gum inflammation, to periodontitis, which causes serious damage to your bone and soft tissue, and eventually tooth loss.
In its early stages, gum disease symptoms are usually painless, so that you may not even be aware you have it. And because gum disease can be largely overcome with good oral hygiene and early intervention, it’s very important that you visit the Wickham Terrace Dental team regularly, to allow us to monitor your teeth and gums for early symptoms of gum disease.
What is gingivitis?
Bacteria feast on the sugars in your food, coating your teeth and gums with the colourless, sticky film called plaque. If this plaque isn’t thoroughly removed by your daily brushing and flossing, it will irritate and inflame your gums. You’ll notice your gums are red and swollen, and bleed when you brush. The good news is that this ‘gingivitis’ is a completely reversible condition with gum disease treatment from Wickham Terrace Dental.
When treating gingivitis our team will remove the built-up plaque from your teeth, and give you the advice you need to ensure your at-home oral hygiene, including brushing twice a day and flossing every day, is effective. With early treatment, your gums will recover.
What is periodontitis?
Without proper treatment for gum disease in its early stages, it will progress to the much more serious periodontitis. Your inflamed gums will start to pull away from your teeth, forming pockets in which even more bacteria become trapped. Because the plaque in these pockets can’t be reached with your toothbrush, it hardens to form tartar, causing further gum infection symptoms such as irritation and infection.
Eventually, this damage will advance into the supporting tissue around your teeth, including your gums and jaw bone. If not treated, your teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.
Gum disease treatment
Your treatment for gum disease will depend on the extent of your problem. But in any case, the most important part of your treatment is maintaining excellent oral hygiene at home. We may recommend you use an antiseptic mouthwash to help prevent plaque formation, and instruct you on the correct brushing and flossing method to use at home. Importantly, you should ensure this home maintenance is accompanied by a professional clean at Wickham Terrace Dental in the Brisbane CBD, usually every six months.
Scaling and root planing
When treating gingivitis the Wickham Terrace Dental team use a deep-cleaning method called scaling, to scrape off the tartar from above and below your gum line. With root planing we will remove the rough spots on your teeth’s roots where germs thrive, eradicating the disease-causing bacteria.
If your gum disease symptoms have progressed to periodontitis, we may recommend more extensive scaling over several appointments, to fully remove plaque and tartar from the periodontal pockets under local anaesthetic. We will then monitor these pockets over time, to be sure your treatment has been successful and the periodontitis isn’t becoming worse.
If your periodontal pockets are too deep to be cleaned by scaling, you may need gum surgery. We will refer you to a specialist periodontist, who will cut into the gums to thoroughly remove plaque and calculus from the bottom of very deep pockets.
If you think this treatment for gum disease sounds rather unattractive – we agree! To guard against the onset of gum disease, or to treat its early stages, we strongly recommend you visit Wickham Terrace Dental Brisbane every six months for a comprehensive examination.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the causes of gum disease?
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is caused by plaque, a naturally occurring, sticky film that forms on your teeth, particularly around the gum line. The bacteria which thrive in plaque, especially in the gap between your gums and teeth, build up to cause irritation and infection of your gums, which are symptoms of gum disease.
If you have poor oral hygiene, smoke, have diabetes, are pregnant, or are taking some medications, you may be at higher risk of developing gum disease.
What gum disease symptoms should I look for?
Signs you may have gum disease include:
- Red, swollen, tender or bleeding gum
- Pain when chewing & eating
- Loose or sensitive teeth
- Constant bad breath
- Receding gums, or teeth which appear longer over time.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it could be a sign you have a serious problem. Contact the Wickham Terrace Dental team for a thorough examination of your gum disease symptoms and treatment advice.
What is the link between plaque and calculus?
Plaque is an invisible, sticky film which forms on your teeth every day, creating the ideal environment for bacteria. The acid they produce causes tooth decay and irritates your gums, eventually causing gingivitis and periodontal disease.
If plaque isn’t regularly removed by your brushing and flossing routine, it will harden to form calculus or tartar, which you can’t remove with your toothbrush at home. Only a professional cleaning from Wickham Terrace Dental Brisbane can remove this calculus.
What treatment for gum disease will I need?
In most cases we can slow or halt the progression of gum disease, if we start treatment early. The more advanced your gum disease is, the more difficult and less predictable it is to treat. For prevention or treatment of gum disease, ensure you:
- Visit Wickham Terrace Dental for a comprehensive search for any gum infection symptoms, including x-rays to help us diagnose any deep gum problems.
- Use the proper brushing and flossing techniques at home, as demonstrated by the Wickham Terrace Dental team, to ensure excellent oral hygiene. This is one of the most important things you can do to help prevent gum disease.
- Undergo thorough scaling and root planing from a specialist Periodontist. Treating gingivitis with scaling involves scraping off the tartar from above and below your gum line, while root planing gets rid of any rough spots on your tooth root where bacteria can thrive, contributing to gum disease.
Is there a link between gum disease and other diseases?
New research shows that people with gum disease may have a higher risk of developing heart disease or diabetes.
Though more research is needed to conclusively prove any link, what we do know is that early treatment for gum disease can help reduce your risk of tooth loss – which we think is a great reason for ensuring your oral hygiene is the best it can be.