Here at Andersson Dental we offer treatment for gum disease by our experienced hygienist Anne McIntyre. This page was made to provide some insight into the disease for our patients.
If you notice blood when you brush your teeth you may have gum disease. If your dentist has told you that you have ‘gum problems’, ‘swollen gums’, ‘gum pocketing’, or inflammation of the gums, that means you have gum disease and steps need to be taken to prevent it from getting worse.
Gum disease is not painful and generally symptomless so it is easy to ignore it and consider it as a minor problem. If you don’t address the problem, however it can lead to gum abscesses, bad breath, wobbly teeth and eventually tooth loss at an early age and a generalised chronic infection which can spread to other parts of your body and cause ill health.
How did I get gum disease?
Gum disease is a slow gradual infection of the tissues that hold the tooth in its socket. It is caused by bacteria in the plaque that can build up on the teeth if you don’t brush your teeth properly. Certain factors cause gum disease to get worse eg smoking, poor toothbrushing technique, lack of cleaning inbetween the teeth ie no flossing, certain medical condition such as diabetes, chronic inflammatory conditions, generalised illness, family history, disability which may lead to a lack of dexterity and a decreased ability to brush well, dementia, and also pregnancy. Pregnancy gingivitis is a short term condition caused by pregnancy hormones but can still lead to long term damage if not treated.
In the photo above, the yellow that can be seen is called tartar. This is basically calcified plaque (bacteria) which builds up when the teeth are not cleaned properly because the bacteria remain. The body responds to the tartar with Inflammation. Therefore it is is vital to remove the tartar build up to remove the inflammation of the gums – the gum disease, also called gingivitis.
The tartar was removed by a procedure called Scaling – using first an ultra sonic instrument and thereafter using a depuration instrument. It is common for the patient to get numbed up during the procedure since it can be painful removing heavy deposits.As you can see in the lower photo the inflammation has decreased and the patient is now instructed how to clean their teeth at home.
What happens during gum disease?
Your teeth are held in place by your gums, bone and membrane. When infection sets in due to plaque on your teeth and gums, the supporting structures start to break down. It starts off in the gums and they start to look swollen and may bleed when brushing or flossing. It then spreads to to membrane and the bone. Once the bone starts to break down you may notice the tooth loosening off. As it spreads further the tooth will become more loose and more wobbly and eventually completely non functional. At this stage the tooth will have to be extracted. Gum disease can start in your teenaged years and if allowed to continue you can notice loosening teeth at a young age.
Can gum disease be cured?
No. You cannot rebuild the tissues and bone that have dissolved away due to gum disease. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. BUT you can stop the progression of the disease and stop further loosening of the teeth. Some people think that losing your teeth and getting ‘long in the tooth’ is a natural part of ageing but it doesn’t have to be. This is the one part if your body that can be maintained and stay youthful just by having a daily routine of brushing and flossing. This, along with regular visits to your dentist and hygienist makes it possible to have young looking teeth for your whole life. And all without the need for Botox!
My tooth needs to be extracted because of gum disease. Am I going to be
If you are unfortunate enough to need one or more teeth taken out due to advanced gum disease all is not lost. Your remaining teeth may be strong enough to hold dental bridges to fill the gaps. If you brush your teeth and use interdental cleaning brushes then it is likely that the gum disease will stop progressing and stop getting worse. If you haven’t got enough teeth to hold a bridge then you can consider dentures ie. false teeth or dental implants.
Dental implants can hold a bridge and it is just like having your own teeth back again.
What do I need to do to make sure I don’t get gum disease?
Brush your teeth twice a day and use interdental floss or brushes at least 3 times a week. Gum disease does not happen to clean and healthy teeth! A skilled hygienist will help you maintain good oral hygiene.