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Gum Disease

Gum disease (also known as "Periodontal Disease") is  inflammation and infection of the gums. It is caused by plaque, a thick and sticky film of bacteria that builds up on the teeth. Plaque can harden to become calculus, also known as tartar. Plaque and calculus are caused by poor oral hygiene; that is, the teeth have not been cleaned thoroughly or often enough.

Early stage of gum disease

Bacteria in plaque and calculus can damage the gums and cause gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis can usually be treated successfully by removal of the plaque and calculus, followed by thorough brushing and flossing every day.

Advanced stage of gum disease

The advanced stage of gum disease is called Periodontitis. It can cause serious damage to teeth and the gums, and the jaw bone that supports the teeth. As gum inflammation and infection get worse, gum pockets are formed, and gums may recede from the teeth. As a result, the teeth can become loose, fall out or require extraction. Periodontitis can result in the loss of many teeth in some people.

Periodontitis has been recently shown to be associated with and a likely risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Treatment and Maintenance

Deposits of plaque and calculus on tooth roots and in deeper pockets beneath the gum line are removed using instruments that leave the root surface clean and smooth. A local anaesthetic may be needed to numb the teeth and gums being treated. This may require several visits for different areas of the mouth to be treated. If a filling is contributing to the gum disease, it may need to be reshaped or replaced.

It is important for you to maintain good oral hygiene by better brushing and cleaning between the teeth (flossing) everyday. Smoking increases the risk of gum disease and reduces the chances of successful treatment. The gum will be evaluated once treatment is complete. If the gums have responded well and oral hygiene is good, a program to maintain your oral health will be developed. This includes regular check up visits and professional disinfection of teeth and gums.

If the gums have not healed well and still have signs of disease, you may need to have periodontal surgery and some antibiotics. If you do not have treatment, the risk is that the gum disease may get worse, leading to tooth loss.