The health of your gums is essential to your overall oral wellbeing. Gums act as the foundation to your smile, providing crucial support and protection to your teeth. When gum tissue becomes under attack from bacteria present in tartar and plaque, it can progress to gum disease. This is easy to treat in its early stages, but if left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis, which is a life-long condition.
What is periodontics?
Periodontics is the field of dentistry concerned with maintaining the health of gums and supporting tissues. This includes treating gum disease, carrying out gum treatments such as gum grafts, and placing implants.
Periodontists are dentists who have completed additional years of training in order to become registered as a specialist. They are best suited to help people with aggressive periodontitis, keeping on top of the condition and preventing it from causing further damage.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is a condition caused through the immune system reacting to the presence of bacteria in plaque deposits on your teeth. Plaque builds up as a result of food debris attracting bacteria. Regular brushing removes most of the plaque that builds up during the day, but some areas are hard to reach, particularly around the gum line and between the teeth. These plaque deposits irritate the gum tissue, causing it to become inflamed.
This stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. The symptoms include swollen and red gums, bleeding gums, sensitivity to temperature and halitosis.
If left untreated, the gums start to recede as the tissue breaks down. This forms pockets between the gum and tooth, creating vulnerable areas for bacteria to enter.
This more destructive stage is periodontitis and can be controlled through maintenance. If left to continue, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss.
How can gum disease be treated?
Prevention is always better than cure, but gum disease can be treated and controlled. At the early stage, we can solve the condition with regular visits to the hygienist. Great interdental cleaning at home will also do much to keep gums clear of the disease.
Hygienists carry out a thorough assessment to track and treat signs of gum disease. They also clean the teeth with a scale and polish, removing stubborn tartar from areas that are hard to reach with a conventional toothbrush.
For more serious cases of gum disease, a dentist or periodontist can scale tartar from deeper below the gum line. Local anaesthetic is needed for this treatment.
Other gum treatments
In some cases, we may need to replenish lost gum tissue that has become under attack. Gum grafts can restore lost tissue and encourage healing. We can also carry out cosmetic gum surgery to address a gummy smile, elongating the crowns of the teeth.