If your gums are red and swollen or bleed when you bite into crunchy food, you may be wondering how to treat gum disease.
Gum disease is a widespread oral condition that affects around 3 in 10 adults in Australia. Yet, it’s a condition that a person can easily avoid by diligently brushing their teeth and gums at least twice a day.
So what exactly is Gum disease?
Gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease, is an infection of the soft tissue surrounding the teeth. It occurs in two stages:
Gingivitis This is the term given to the mildest form of gum disease. The symptoms include gums that are red and swollen or that bleed when you bite into crunchy food. Gingivitis can also cause bad breath. Without treatment, gingivitis can turn into periodontitis, a more severe form of Gum disease. The good news is that gingivitis can be cured or reversed quite easily.
Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease that can weaken the gum area closest to the teeth. This causes pockets to form between the teeth and gums. The pockets can trap harmful bacteria causing the gums to swell further. Over time, the bone will start to erode, causing teeth to loosen and eventually fall out.
A little later in the article, we’ll discuss how to treat Gum disease but first, let’s look at what causes it.
What causes gum disease?
Periodontal disease results from a sticky layer of bacteria (plaque) that builds up on the teeth. This sticky film irritates the gums, making them bleed easily. If the plaque is not removed by brushing the teeth, it hardens and causes further irritation to the gums. Once hardened, plaque (referred to as tartar or calculus) can only be removed from the teeth by your dentist.
Who is at risk of periodontal (gum) disease?
A person is more likely to suffer from Gum disease if they:
- have diabetes or other diseases
- take certain medications
- have a genetic predisposition
- take illicit drugs
- are going through puberty or pregnancy
- are stressed
- have poor nutrition
If your gums are swollen, or your teeth feel loose, you should make an immediate appointment with your dentist. They can examine your teeth and, where necessary, take x-rays to assess the extent of the condition.
How is periodontal disease treated?
The treatment your dentist will advise will be based on the severity of the condition. If you have been diagnosed with an early form of periodontal disease, your dentist is likely to recommend a non-surgical treatment – a scale and polish.
A dentist or hygienist carries this out. The bulk of the hardened plaque or tartar is removed with an ultrasound scraper followed by special hand-held instruments to eradicate any stubborn remains.
The next step is for the dentist or hygienist to polish the teeth, making their surface smooth. While polishing the teeth leaves the teeth looking bright and clean, it also smooths away patches of rough texture and minor imperfections protecting against further accumulation of tartar.
How to treat Gum disease at home
Once your dentist or hygienist has removed all the plaque from your teeth, it’s down to you to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent periodontal disease from recurring. All that’s needed is to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day. Be sure to attend regular check-ups with your dentist bi-annually to remain on track.
What about periodontitis? How is that treated?
If your dentist has diagnosed periodontitis, surgical intervention may be necessary. Some of the treatments include:
Pocket reduction surgery/flap surgery
This treatment involves the dentist lifting back the gums to remove tartar. On occasions, they may smooth any irregular surfaces of damaged bone to prevent bacteria clinging to them.
The gums are then placed back tightly around the teeth. This treatment helps reduce the space between the tooth and gum, effectively limiting the areas where bacteria can thrive and decreasing the harmful risks associated with periodontal disease.
Soft tissue grafts
Soft tissue grafts fill in areas where the gums have receded and give more density to thin gums. Grafted tissue is commonly taken from the roof of the mouth and stitched in place to add volume to the affected area.
This procedure uses fragments of bone from your own body or synthetic bone to replace the bone destroyed by periodontitis. The graft encourages the regrowth of bone to restore tooth stability.
This method helps to level shallow craters in the bone caused by moderate to severe bone loss. After flap surgery, the bone supporting the tooth is reshaped to reduce the size of the holes, making it harder for bacteria to collect and grow.
Designed to promote bone and tissue growth, a surgeon performs this procedure when the bone supporting the teeth is destroyed. During flap surgery, a small piece of mesh-like fabric is inserted by the surgeon between the bone and gum tissue. This encourages the tissue to grow into the bone area to support the teeth better.
Hopefully, this information has answered your question ‘how to treat Gum disease?’
Do you have periodontal disease?
If you’re worried that you have the condition, don’t put off getting treatment. Early diagnosis is key to ensuring non-surgical dental treatment. Don’t hesitate to get in touch today.
Health Direct.Gov – Gum Disease https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/gum-disease
MayoClinic.org – Periodontitis https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/periodontitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354473#:~:text=Periodontitis%20(per%2De%2Do%2Ddon,is%20common%20but%20largely%20preventable.
WebMD – What is Tartar – 6 Tips to control Build-up https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/tartar-dental-calculus-overview
Colgate – What is Scaling And Root Planing? https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/gum-disease/what-dentists-do-when-root-planing-and-scaling-teeth
Australian Dental Association – Ignoring Oral Health Can Have Serious Impacts On The Rest Of The Body https://www.ada.org.au/News-Media/News-and-Release/Media-Releases/DHW-media-release-2-03082021
Journal Of Dental Health – Guided Tissue Regeneration – A Review https://medcraveonline.com/JDHODT/guided-tissue-regeneration-a-review.html