Gums play a major role not only in your dental health, but in your overall well-being. A combination of plaque (a sticky, colourless coating) and bacteria forms on your teeth, and if left, hardens or calcifies to cause calculus. This calcified substance can only be professionally removed through a clean and polish.
In many instances, swollen and bleeding gums are a sign of gum disease. However, there are a number of other factors that could be causing your gum problems which can lead to periodontitis; these symptoms are detailed below.
your gums may have or more of these symptoms...
- Painful or sore
- Bad breath
- Loose, wobbly teeth
- Advanced gum disease causes the loss of teeth
TWO TYPES OF GUM DISEASE
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease which typically causes bleeding gums but is not painful. Gums can bleed when brushing and this could be a one-off, or it may happen every time you brush your teeth. Usually it is caused by not brushing your teeth correctly with a toothbrush or inbetween your teeth with floss or interdental brushes. Plaque increases in the mouth, and if this is not removed, it will harden to form calculus.
Periodontitis is the progression of gingivitis which has been left untreated. Bad bacteria proliferate under the gum line, which destroys the gums and bones that hold the teeth in place. Usually the first sign a person knows they have a problem is when a tooth becomes loose or falls out. This is the end stage of gum disease unfortunately. At this stage it is crucial for you to be seen to avoid losing more teeth, although it would be best if we can see you before you have a loose tooth.
Gum disease solutions
Gingivitis can easily be prevented with regular twice-daily brushing and flossing. Smoking is a significant risk factor for gum disease and we would strongly recommend you to quit for your general and dental health. Regular checkups with our dentist and hygienist will remove any calculus that cannot be removed by toothbrushing. This will significantly reduce the chance of gingivitis progressing into periodontitis.
WHAT DOES A HYGIENIST DO?
Hygienists help to educate and inform our patients if they have gum disease, its management and home care routine. Stabilisation to prevent progression of gum disease is key.
Gum disease is treated by removing the hardened plaque (calculus) from your teeth. If you imagine the hull of a boat under water can grow barnacles on it, this is similar to how calculus grows on tooth roots. If you remove the barnacles from the boat's hull to leave it smooth, it will take a lot longer for the barnacles to re-grow. It is similar for calculus. Once our hygienist has removed the calculus with hand scalers and ultrasonics, this leaves smooth tooth roots, allowing optimal oral hygiene with interdental brushes and toothbrushing. An air polisher can be used to remove stains too.
Gum disease can be mild, moderate or severe. Mild cases can be treated usually in a 30 minute hygienist session for $100. Moderate-severe cases may require two 45 or a 60 minute appointment. Local anaesthetic is used if you have sensitive teeth.
Every patient is different, but with gum disease, there are a few key items we would recommend to reduce the bacterial load in your mouth causing gum disease.
- A sonic-powered electric toothbrush can significantly improve your gum health by reducing the plaque load
- Inter-dental brushes such as TePe's clean in between teeth where toothbrushes cannot reach
- Flossing cleans the tight contacts between teeth to prevent decay
- Antibacterial mouth rinses are only recommended during
Our hygienist will demonstrate how to correctly use and angle your toothbrush, interdental brushes and floss. If an ideal home-care regime is adopted, it is highly likely you will keep the majority of your teeth.
Low-risk patients may require six-monthly preventative maintenance cleans with our hygienist ($100), and annual checkups and cleans with our dentist ($185).
REFERRAL TO A GUM DISEASE SPECIALIST
Sometimes your gum health has advanced significantly that it requires a referral to the gum disease specialist, John Whelan. He conveniently works out of the same building as the Gardens Dental team. He can provide non-surgical or surgical interventions to reduce the bacterial load in your mouth. Once your gum health has stabilised, it will require 4-6 monthly hygiene visits to keep the bacterial load at bay.