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    February 02, 2012

    Have I got gum disease?


     Have I got gum disease?

    • One thing all of us have in common is we want to look and feel our best! High self esteem enables us to feel good and make a good impression on others. An important part of your self esteem is your smile. A beautiful smile, clean teeth and fresh breath are important assets for business and your personal life. Unfortunately, periodontal (gum) disease can destroy your confidence and your health.
    • Mouth odour and unsightly gums can actually cause others to shy away.
    • By age 35, three out of four adults develop some form of gum disease.
    • Gum disease can occur at any age, but recent studies indicate a greater risk after age 35.
    • This insidious disease is painless and if untreated will destroy the gums and bone surrounding your teeth and may eventually lead to tooth loss.

    Figure 1 shows healthy gums whereas figure 2 shows red areas along the gum margin and accumulation of soft plaque. But you would probably agree there is not much difference to the untrained eye and that is where the problem lies. A disease that is insidious, mostly painless and doesn't look too bad but can and does result in the loss of your teeth and can have serious repercussions for your overall general health.. If your dentist does not pick up a probe and check your gums then some problems maybe missed. Ask "how are my gums?, do I have gum disease?....


    How can you avoid gum disease and its unpleasant consequences? The answer is simple. Exercise good judgment -- brush properly and floss every day. Also, see your dentist for regular cleanings. If you have neglected to do this, start today with a visit to your dentist. If periodontal disease is treated in the early stages,  the damage can be reversed or at worst halted.

    What are the stages of gum disease?

    There are two stages of gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis.

    1. The first, gingivitis, is an inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria in plaque. The gums become red, swollen and bleed upon brushing. Normal bacteria in the mouth continuously form a thin film of plaque on tooth surfaces and on the gum line. If 100% plaque is not removed every day, it eventually hardens into calculus (tartar).  Once calculus forms it can only be removed by your dentist or hygienist with special instruments. Gingivitis is curable with treatment from your dentist, followed by proper brushing and flossing at home. Please look at our detailed instructions on  toothbrush technique and  cleaning between your teeth techniques to make sure that your brushing technique is correct and you can maintain your healthy gums.
    2. If not corrected, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis. You will probably not be able to tell if your gingivitis has progressed to periodontits because it is painless. It is very important for you to visit your dentist so a correct diagnosis can be made. At this stage, even a high quality tooth brush alone will not control the disease because of the amount of calculus (hard plaque) accumulated around the teeth. The calculus itself will prevent your oral hygiene techniques from working properly, because the calculus prevents access of bristles etc to the needed areas. Bacteria in & around the calculus produces waste products which create toxins and volatile sulfur compounds.The sulfur compunds are often responsible for bad breath. Toxins cause the gum to detach from the tooth surface and the bone to dissolve from around the root of the tooth leading to the development of a periodontal(gum) pocket. The spaces or crevices in healthy gums are normally 1 to 3mm deep. Any pocket of 4mm or more needs treatment to prevent it from getting deeper. If left untreated it will painlessly progress deeper and deeper. If the pocket progresses beyond 5mm it is known as moderate periodontal disease.

    Even teeth that look healthy can be hiding pockets where bone is being destroyed.

    • To evaluate for hidden gum disease your dentist will recommend x-rays and periodontal probing. The periodontal probe is a special instrument for measuring the pocket depth around each tooth. Periodontal disease is rarely confined to one tooth. It usually involves several teeth and may effect all of them.
    • If your pockets are 5mm or less your dentist will suggest non surgical treatment involving special scaling of your teeth over several visits. At completion of this treatment, the dentist will re-probe your gums to evaluate the results. If the pockets decrease to a depth of 1-3mm, the periodontitis may be under control.
    • Even after the most thorough scaling carried out by your dentist your home care must be excellent to be able to achieve improvements in the health of your gums.

    If there is no improvement or if your original pockets are in excess of 6mm (advanced periodontitis) your dentist may recommend surgery. Your dentist may perform the procedure or refer you to a gum specialist called a periodontist. The surgical procedure is performed to remove diseased tissue and allow the dentist to thoroughly clean the tooth structure. This makes it more difficult for plaque and calculus to accumulate. If the disease has caused a defect in the bone, your dentist may reshape the area or perform a bone graft procedure. The gums are repositioned around the teeth, usually at a lower level than before the procedure in order to eliminate the pockets. Now you can keep the area free of plaque with daily brushing and flossing.

    If you suspect that you may have gum disease please visit your local dentist or contact us at mdtdental 99083466 or email advice@dentalcareproducts.com.au for further advice.
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