Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease which attacks the gums and bone around the teeth.
It does not necessarily cause any pain until advanced stages and therefore can often progress undetected, sometimes for years. If left untreated, it may have far reaching implications not only on the mouth, but on the entire body. Periodontal disease or “gum disease”, as it is commonly known is present in nearly one quarter of Australian adults.
We have over 6 billion bacteria in our mouth and many of these are implicated in this inflammation. These bacteria combined with food to form a sticky, “plaque” on the teeth. This build up can be removed through diligent oral hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing.
Where plaque is not effectively removed from around the teeth, it can harden to form calculus otherwise known as tartar. Once this has settled around the teeth, it cannot be removed by simple brushing or flossing alone.
If it is not treated and managed effectively, it may lead to serious dental and general health problems.
Signs of periodontal disease may include:
Red, tender or swollen gums
Bleeding gums while brushing, flossing or eating
Loosening teeth or increasing gaps between the teeth
Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
Bad breath (halitosis) or bad taste
Changes in the bite
This involves the professional removal of plaque and tartar deposits during a “clean” by scaling the teeth. Scaling is carried out by hand instruments and ultra-sonic scalers. In situations where teeth are sensitive or deeper cleaning is required, local anaesthetic may be used for your comfort. Your dentist will advise you on how regularly this should be done and will put you on an appropriate home hygiene routine based on your individual situation.
In more advanced cases, you may be referred to a periodontist, a dentist who specialises in the treatment of periodontal disease.
Can periodontal disease cause problems beyond my mouth?
It is now widely recognised that oral bacteria and their toxins may be linked to a wide range of conditions such as:
Cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and strokes
Fertility and pregnancy
There is an ever increasing amount of scientific evidence linking oral infection and systemic disease. From a holistic perspective it is therefore very important to ensure that your mouth is as healthy as possible for overall good health.