Periodontitis is a chronic gum disease characterised by the progressive inflammatory destruction of the tissues which support our teeth. The condition is initiated by the presence of dental plaque along the junction between our teeth and gum (gum-line). As our bodies immune cells are unable to physically remove plaque from our teeth our body responds with inflammation along the gum-line in response to the bacterial irritation. When the inflammation is limited only to the gums and without bone loss, the condition is termed as Gingivitis. Treatment of gingivitis is as simple as having a professional dental cleaning and improving oral hygiene practices to prevent its recurrence.

If the inflammation is untreated, a “Pocket” may form between the gums and teeth and allow plaque and calculus (tartar; i.e the mineralised biofilm) to grow beneath the gums. This process may lead to loss of gum and bone necessary to support our teeth. For many patients, the disease is chronic and leads to a progressive loss of tissue over many years. This often fools patients into believing that they lose teeth because of age! For others, the loss of tissue occurs more rapidly resulting in many teeth lost within a short time. The trouble for the majority of patients is that most gum disease is completely painless!!! The absence of pain is significant as it allows the disease to advance without the patient realising that tooth loss awaits them in future.

Signs of gum disease: (in Box)

  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating.
  • Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before or even sensitive.
  • Progressive loosening or migration of teeth.
  • Pus between your gums and teeth.
  • Sores in your mouth.
  • Persistent bad breath

The goal of periodontal treatment is to establish a healthy attachment between each tooth and its surrounding bone, ligament and gum. In milder forms, non-surgical treatments eliminate the bacteria underneath and around our gum-line thereby halting disease progression. Following this initial therapy, the objective for the patient and dentist is to prevent recurrence. In moderate to severe forms, minor surgery may be required to, eliminate deeply seated plaque and calculus and in some cases, regenerate the gum and bone tissues destroyed by the disease.

Once gum disease is treated, it is critical to follow a stringent maintenance protocol to prevent disease recurrence and prevent future tooth loss.

As other gum diseases do exist, the diagnosis and management of gum disease is best managed by specialists in the field of periodontology. Your periodontist will take a detailed medical history and examine your teeth and gums with detailed measurements prior to any treatment. The objectives of this detailed consultation include the following:

  • Diagnose the type of gum disease present.
  • Stage its severity
  • Grade its rate of progression
  • Determine if medical conditions, medications or habits influence your gum disease
  • Determine if the gum disease will impact existing medical conditions
  • Diagnose and treat local factors within your mouth which may negatively impact your oral health and efficiency of oral hygiene
  • Design a patient specific treatment plan
  • Design a patient specific programme with the objective to prevent disease recurrence