Periodontal disease - Gingivitis

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease or gingivitis, is an infection of the soft tissue around your tooth. The structures include gums, cementum that covers the root, the periodontal ligament, and the alveolar bone. It ranges from a simple gum inflammation to a severe damage of soft tissue and bone that support your teeth.

Gingivitis refers to the inflammation of the gums. It is a mild form of gum disease that goes off with brushing, flossing, and cleaning by a dentist. It doesn’t involve damage to the soft tissue or bone. It is a reversible condition.

If gingivitis is left untreated, it may lead to periodontitis or irreversible damage to the teeth.

The mouth consists of bacteria that form plaque on your teeth along with mucus and other particles. These bacteria produce toxins that act on bone and soft tissue. If you don’t brush or floss your teeth properly, plaque hardens and forms tartar that can be cleaned up only by a professional dentist. It leads to swelling and inflammation of the gum that increase the pocket depth (space between gum and tooth) and loosening of the tooth. If you don’t undergo the treatment promptly, tartar may damage the tooth leading to periodontal disease.

You may experience following signs and symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Red, tender, and swollen gums
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Pain while chewing
  • Bleeding from the gums while brushing
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Formation of pus between teeth and gums
  • Tooth loss, in cases of severe damage

Poor oral hygiene is a major risk factor for gum disease. Hormonal changes during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause make your gums sensitive and more susceptible to gum disease. Immunocompromised conditions such as HIV may also increase the risk of developing gum disease.

Smoking increases the risk of gum disease. It also interferes with the repair of gums. Certain medications used to treat depression and history of blood pressure increases the risk. Individuals with diabetes are also more prone to gum disease because of high blood sugar levels.

If gingivitis is left untreated, it may lead to periodontitis (a severe form of gum disease). Poor oral hygiene together with periodontitis may affect your overall health and may lead to following conditions:

  • Heart failure
  • Lung disease
  • Stroke
  • Premature birth

Your dentist performs a dental examination to check bleeding, swelling, pocket depth, teeth movement, sensitivity, teeth alignment, and the jawbone.

Your doctor recommends an X-ray to check for the bone loss in the deeper pocket depths. You may be referred to a periodontist, a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of the gum diseases so that you can get more appropriate treatment.

The main objective of the treatment is to control the infection. The treatment depends on the extent of the gum disease.

Cleaning teeth

There are several techniques to clean your teeth:

  • Scaling removes tartar.
  • Root planning method helps to remove rough spots on the tooth root (areas where germs gather).
  • The laser can be used to remove plaque and tartar.

Medications

Medications are given as an adjuvant therapy for cleaning procedures. Antimicrobial mouthwash, antiseptic chip, antibiotic gel, etc. are used to control the growth of bacteria. Oral antibiotics can also be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation.

Surgery

Flap surgery is performed if inflammation is persistent after cleaning and using medications. In this procedure, gums are lifted up to remove plaque and then placed back with the help of suturing. Bone and tissue grafts are placed if there is any loss of bone or soft tissue due to inflammation.

Prevention

Maintaining proper oral hygiene is essential for preventing periodontal disease:

  • Brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and soft toothbrush.
  • Floss your teeth daily
  • Replace your toothbrush for every three to four months
  • Quit smoking.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Consult your dentist regularly at least for every six months. You need to visit more often if you have a gum disease.