Periodontal Disease is an inflammatory disease. The inflammation in your gums is part of the body’s natural defence mechanisms and in your gums, it occurs in response to a build-up of plaque (bacteria) on the teeth. In some patients, this natural inflammatory process is too severe or poorly controlled and the inflammation actually damages the supporting structures of the teeth, namely gum and supporting bone.
Approximately 10% of the population are severely affected by periodontal disease but milder forms of the disease can affect around 80% of people by the age of 60. There appears to be some genetic link with periodontal disease, with trends running in families. If you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, then potentially your siblings are at an increased risk of having the same problem and potentially your children may be at an increased risk. Ideally, they should all be screened and monitored for potential problems by their general dentist.
The single biggest risk factor for developing gum disease is poor oral hygiene. Allowing plaque to sit around your teeth and gums for prolonged periods of time will provoke the destructive inflammatory response.
Next to poor oral hygiene, the second biggest risk factor is smoking. Smokers are four times more likely to develop gum disease and lose three times more teeth than non-smokers and they do not respond as well to treatment. If you are a smoker, then stopping or reducing will help. Should you wish to stop smoking, the best people to speak to are your GP and medical practice nurse. We are also happy to offer advice.
There are other conditions such as undiagnosed or poorly controlled diabetes, poor diet and stress which can also play their part. If you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease it is recommended that you see your GP for a routine diabetes test.
Sometimes yes, although technically it’s the mature plaque that causes the odour rather than the inflammation in the gums. If plaque is not removed regularly and is allowed to mature it becomes a medium for anaerobic bacteria which can release a foul-smelling odour resulting in bad breath.
It is no longer considered inevitable that your teeth will be lost if you have Periodontal Disease. In most cases it can be treated successfully, however, we cannot cure it. Similar to diabetes, there is no cure but by controlling the disease we can prevent further damage and allow you to keep your teeth for a long time.
Your role in the management and stabilisation of the disease is crucial. The disease cannot be controlled without your homecare efforts. We will show you techniques aimed at cleaning your teeth to a very high standard so that bacteria levels are below the level that triggers inflammation. This is different from one patient to the next but without this change in homecare, our treatment cannot and will not be successful. Controlling the risk factors outlined above is also an important part of helping yourself control your disease.
Once you are successfully controlling the plaque build-up, we will help by removing the deposits that you cannot reach or attached firmly to the teeth. This can take time and you may need several treatment sessions over a period of weeks or months. This treatment will be carried out by our hygienist who is specially trained in these techniques. It is impossible to know exactly how long it will take to stabilise the condition but the harder you work at home, the quicker improvements tend to happen. Occasionally, in more severe cases, further treatment may be required in the form of surgery and you would probably be referred to a Specialist in Periodontics if this were the case.
This is not an infection. It is the bodies reaction to removable plaque. When the plaque is physically removed by you and by us, the inflammation will resolve and the disease will stabilise without the need for antibiotics. All that antibiotics would do is kill the bacteria whilst you were taking the medication. The mouth is the perfect breeding ground for plaque. As soon as you stop the course of antibiotics, the bacteria would return and the problem would restart.
If the bone loss around the teeth is not controlled then teeth may become loose, the gums may shrink and in some cases teeth will become infected and fall out. There is also compelling evidence that untreated Periodontal Disease can have effects on general health.
Due to the fact that there has been irreversible bone loss, when the inflammation resolves it is likely that you will experience some gum shrinkage and possibly some tooth sensitivity. These are unavoidable side effects of treatment and you must remember that failing to control the disease may result in tooth loss.
Dental Hygienists are specifically trained in the treatment and prevention of gum disease. This is their field of expertise and they are trained to very high standards. You have been referred to our in-house hygienist, Faye Donald, who has over 20 years’ experience in the dental industry and has worked alongside a periodontal specialist for over 10 years. She has completed additional training in the management of periodontal disease and has twice been awarded the prestigious title of ‘Best Hygienist’ at the National Industry Awards. Faye also lectures to other hygienists nationally and internationally and we believe is the best person at York Place Dental Practice to deal with your Periodontal Disease.
Faye will complete a personalised full history and complete a comprehensive assessment of your gums. This may include the need for x-rays. She will outline a course of treatment and the number of appointments she feels is necessary to bring your gum disease under control. This varies from one person to the next and is also dependant on how quickly you reach a sufficiently high standard of oral hygiene. Our receptionist will provide you with an itemised estimate of the time needed and costs involved once the initial assessment has been completed.