Gingivitis is an inflammation of our “gingiva” or gums. It is caused by the accumulation of plaque, which is a sticky layer of food and bacteria adhering to teeth. If plaque is not removed (by good brushing and flossing) it can cause gingival irritation. Furthermore, minerals in our saliva may cause the plaque to harden and become “tartar” or calculus. This cannot be removed by brushing and flossing.
Periodontal Disease is an advanced form of gum disease (gingivitis). Periodontal disease affects the gums, bone and “periodontal ligaments” that support the teeth. As periodontal disease progresses it can cause the gums and attachment tissues to fall away from the tooth. The bone and gums recede and the tooth may become loose.
Treatment of Periodontal Disease
History: Ensure to give your dentist your complete medical history prior to treatment for periodontal disease.
Charting, radiographs (x-rays) and sometimes photographs: Your dentist may require charting pockets beneath your gums and x-rays initially to help diagnose periodontal disease.
Treatment: Removal of plaque and calculus.
- Polishing: Removes stains and plaque - will help treat gingivitis.
- Scaling: Removes stains, plaque and calculus in shallow pockets using specially designed ultrasonic scalers and hand scalers. Will help treat gingivitis and early/mild periodontal disease.
- Root planing: Removes stains, plaque and calculus in deep pockets under the gum with specially designed ultrasonic scalers and hand scalers to treat moderate to severe periodontal disease.
Oral hygiene: This is perhaps the most important factor!! Your dentist will help give you advice on brushing and cleaning between teeth. Some mouthrinses containing chlorhexidine can help act against bacteria causing gum disease.
When I brush, my gums bleed easily. Am I doing something wrong?
Unless you are brushing extremely forcefully and with the wrong action, the most likely cause of bleeding is from food, plaque or calculus build-up causing irritation to the gums. This doesn’t mean stop brushing, it means keep going! Sometimes it is also a sign that a visit to the dentist is due!
My teeth are particularly sensitive following my clean. Why?
As inflamed gums shrink back down to a healthy size they recede slightly. This exposes a more sensitive part of the tooth – the root of the tooth. In addition, sometimes calculus deposits on the tooth root can insulate the tooth from sensitivity. When this is cleaned away, the tooth can be quite sensitive.
Are there other factors that affect periodontal disease?
Yes. Smoking is a significant factor which accelerates the progression of periodontal disease. Poorly controlled diabetes also impairs the gums ability to heal and so can also accelerate this. There is also a genetic link. So if your parents or even grandparents had periodontal disease, you are more likely to have it!
How much does periodontal treatment cost?
Depending on the severity and the number of visits required, costs will vary. Generally speaking referral to a specialist periodontist for more severe periodontal treatment will incur higher costs. Speak to your dentist if you have any questions!