What Is Gum (Periodontal) Disease?


Periodontal disease is a general term describing the inflammation and destruction of the tissue supporting the teeth, which includes gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Gingivitis—is the early stage of gum disease that can be recognised when the gum becomes red and swollen and bleeds easily when you brush your teeth—this is often the first sign of the disease, and is fully reversible at this stage.

Periodontal Disease—this is the later stage of gum disease when the bone and gum supporting the teeth is progressively destroyed. Persistent bad breathe and tall looking teeth (recession), are often warning signs. Moderate stages of periodontal disease can be maintained for years with 2-3 month scaling appointments and good home care. More advanced stages can lead to permanent damage and loss of tooth.

Early diagnosis is the key to maintaining your oral health.


How Is Periodontal Disease Detected?

A Periodontal (gum) assessment is an evaluation of your gingival health. The collar around the tooth where the gum does not attach to the tooth is measured with a calibrated probe. Healthy pocket depths are 2-3mm. In conjunction with pocket depth, bleeding and recession indexes and x-rays are also used to provide a complete diagnosis.

How Often Should I Have My Teeth Cleaned?

Patients have different needs and may require seeing the dentist at different intervals. Each patient is assessed on their particular circumstances, level of hygiene and risk of disease. A six-month check up is often recommended for patients who are maintaining their oral hygiene and have no active gum disease. A 2- 4 month periodontal therapy scaling may be recommended for patients who have difficult areas to maintain, have a higher degree of build up, smokers, patients who have active gum disease or patients who are genetically susceptible to gum disease.

How Long Does The Cleaning Appointment Take?

Appointment time varies with individuals. If the general build up on the teeth is not heavy and the patient is attending regularly a 6-month visits, dental cleaning and polishing will take almost 30 minutes. If a patient has not attended for years, is a heavy smoker or has moderate to heavy build up they may require a few longer sessions. If the teeth are sensitive during a cleaning appointment, local anaesthetic is often used to provide a more comfortable session. Maintainence techniques and aids are discussed, to help educate patients about daily oral home care.

It is possible to have periodontal disease and have no warning signs. That is one reason why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important. Treatment methods depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. Good oral hygiene at home is essential to help keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious or recurring. Brush, clean between your teeth, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

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