Gum Disease

Frequently Asked Questions (Click on Questions to See Answers)

A – Gum disease starts when the gums become inflamed and infected, spreading to and damaging the bones holding the teeth within the jaw bone. Some people who actually have gum disease may not realise at first because they feel no pain. Only when bleeding re-occurs with pain, do they then decide to see their dentist. Our resident dentist can check your teeth to advise you if you have the start of plaque build-up causing gingivitis, so that measures can be taken to prevent deterioration into periodontitis, which is when your teeth become loose with gum abscesses that can be very painful.

A – There are basically two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis can be reversible at the stage where the gums are swollen with inflammation and bleeding, because plaque can be removed and the gums treated to recovery. If left, the condition worsens with abscesses causing periodontitis that is more serious.

When the gums become severely damaged by gingivitis, receding from the teeth leaving a gap around the tooth, plaque becomes trapped. If it compounds and hardens into tartar, the irritation can reach the bone structures holding the teeth in place. As the gums and bones shrink, periodontitis occurs exposing the roots and causing the tooth to loosen. These teeth eventually rot and fall out or need extracting by a dentist.

A – When teeth are not cleaned as recommended for dental hygiene, plaque with bacteria can build up around the teeth causing gingivitis as the gums become swollen with inflammation, red and bleed. Life-style factors such as smoking, which reduces oxygen flow in the blood that helps gums heal, lead to irritation and worsening of the condition. Other conditions, such as diabetes and hormonal fluctuations can also predispose people to gum disease.

A – Initially, you may not realise if you have the start of gingivitis. Therefore, it is important to see a dentist for regular check-ups. Our resident dentist is skilled in identifying gum disease and will examine your teeth to give you an update of their condition and any treatments required.

A – Depending on the condition of your teeth and gums, gum disease can be treated through scaling techniques or through gum surgery. Scaling can be used for early onset gingivitis or periodontitis. Our resident dentist will initially assess your teeth and gums, and may X-ray to determine if the roots of the teeth and bones are affected. Once it is identified which part of the teeth and gums need attention, scaling may be recommended as treatment.

A scaling instrument with gritty toothpaste is used to remove plaque build-up. Our dentist will then advise you on brushing technique and suitable toothpastes and mouthwashes. Sometimes, if the plaque build-up is more severe and tartar has formed in the periodontal pockets, the gums may need to be numbed with local anaesthetic before intensive scaling. The size of these pockets and any plaque build-up will need monitoring by our resident dentist.

If all plaque and tartar cannot be reached due to the size of the pockets, you may need to be seen by a periodontist for gum surgery. A local anaesthetic is administered for this surgery where a slit is made in the gum tissue, to allow the dentist to see the scope of the pockets and to be able to clean out the plaque and tartar more successfully. Once clean, the gum is fused with sutures to aid healing. These either dissolve or are removed within a week. An antibiotic may be prescribed to also facilitate faster healing.

A – Our resident dentist is trained to identify and treat gum disease. Periodontists have expertise in diagnosing and treating gum disease.

A – After treatment, especially during the twenty-four to forty-eight hour period, care should be taken not to further irritate the wound from surgery. Being careful to eat soft foods, not rinse the mouth too vigorously and to brush around the treated site is recommended. Our resident dentist will advise you on proper brushing techniques, foods to avoid, types of mouthwashes to use, and life-style practices that will promote oral health.

A – Yes, there are regular dental checks after gum disease treatment. Our resident dentist will ensure you receive appointment dates for these checks to keep your teeth and gums in a healthy condition that promotes overall well-being. You are also welcome to contact the practice at any time with questions about your oral health.

A – If you maintain your teeth according to recommended oral hygiene techniques and if you regularly visit the dentist, gingivitis gum disease should not re-occur or can be identified and treated before onset. In some cases, such as patients with diabetes or hormonal imbalances, they may have a higher predisposition to gum disease. Ensuring that our resident dentist has your full medical history is important to assist you towards optimal oral hygiene and wellbeing. Once patients have periodontitis, the disease cannot be cured but can be controlled through regular check-ups and dental treatments with our resident dentist.

A – Taking care to brush your teeth according to recommended techniques and times, to use mouthwash, to chew sugar-free gum after meals, to floss and to regularly see your dentist for check-ups can reduce the risk of gum disease. Also, being aware that smoking and high sugar content foods increases likelihood of developing gum disease is important. So, avoiding smoking habits and unbalanced diets is vital for preventing gum disease. Some people with diabetes are also at a higher risk of developing gum disease, so it is important for these people to be open and communicate with their doctor and dentist about their medical history and dental needs.

A – If gum disease is identified at one of your check-ups with our resident dentist, you will be advised and treatment options with costs will be explained to you. Our dentist will answer any questions you have and also discuss payment plans with you if necessary.