Untreated gum disease can eventually lead to tooth loss or other health problems.
Many people are unaware that there are actually several different types of periodontal diseases. Here’s a quick summary:
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease, and the most common. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. You may notice the bleeding, but there is usually little or no discomfort.
Gingivitis (pronounced with a ‘g’ as in ‘ginger’, not as in ‘gate’) is caused by millions of bacteria in a substance called dental plaque which builds up on the surface of teeth. The bacteria produce toxic compounds, and these cause your body to mount an inflammatory response. The inflammation causes the swelling and bleeding.
Sometimes other factors may contribute to gingivitis. These include diabetes, smoking, aging, a genetic predisposition, some systemic diseases and conditions, stress, inadequate nutrition, puberty, hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV infection, and certain medication use.
How is gingivitis treated?
You should arrange an examination at Space Healthcare to check if you actually have gingivitis and not one of the more serious periodontal diseases. If a positive diagnosis is made, treatment is both practice- and home-based. You will have your teeth professionally cleaned of plaque and calculus (tartar) by our hygienists and you will also be shown the best way to remove the maximum amount of plaque away every time you clean your teeth. Consistently good oral hygiene will prevent gingivitis returning.
Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, dental plaque can spread and grow below your gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. These toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response so that the tissues and bone supporting your teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gum tissue separates away from the teeth, creating pockets (spaces between your teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.
Types of Periodontitis
Many people assume that there is only one type of periodontitis.
Unfortunately it’s more complicated than that, and there actually many forms of periodontal diseases. The most common ones include the following:
This results in inflammation within the supporting tissues of the teeth, leading to progressive damage to the structures that join the teeth and gum and eventually leads to loss of bone from around the teeth.
This is the most frequently occurring form of periodontitis and is characterised by pocket formation and/or recession of gum levels. It’s most often found in adults, although it can occur at any age. The loss of gum tissue attachment usually occurs slowly, but periods of rapid progression can sometimes occur.
This may occur in people who are otherwise clinically healthy. In many cases it leads to rapid damage to the structures that join the teeth and gum, leading to bone destruction and pocket formation.
This type of disease often has a history of occurring within families.
This often begins at a young age. Systemic conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes are associated with this form of periodontitis and, if untreated, can lead to the early loss of many teeth.
This is an infection that results in necrosis (death) of gingival (gum) tissues, periodontal ligament and the surrounding bone.
This type of periodontal disease is most commonly observed in people with systemic conditions such as HIV infection, malnutrition and immunosuppression.
The first and most important stage of any treatment is a diagnosis: in the early stages of the disease there may be no symptoms, so you may not even be aware of the condition.
Once periodontitis has been diagnosed it’s important to discover any risk factors that might be contributing to the disease. If these risk factors can be modified or removed this may make a critical difference to the outcome of the disease.
For treatment to be effective treatment you need:
- consistently excellent oral hygiene,
- thorough cleaning of the affected root surfaces to remove infected and toxin-containing material,
- the reduction in specific types of bacteria whose presence is associated with periodontitis.
Once the initial treatment to stabilise your gum health has taken place, it’s vital that a program of longer term care and maintenance of your gum health is followed, to avoid a recurrence of periodontal disease.
Yes. Periodontal disease can be prevented and controlled if a risk-based approach is used to identify the disease early, and if your risk factors can be modified.
Does this approach really work? Interested in knowing more? Click here AxelssonCaries to read about a landmark scientific study that demonstrated how dental disease could be controlled over a 15-year period.