Gum disease can result from a lack of good oral hygiene routines. It is separated into two categories: Gingivitis, which is the inflammation or infection of the gums, and Periodontitis, which is the more severe stage involving destruction of supporting bone. Without treatment and substantial oral hygiene maintenance, both diseases are chronic, meaning they can be long-term and on-going.
Both Gingivitis and Periodontitis begin with the accumulation of Dental Plaque.
Dental Plaque is the bacterial biofilm that forms on your teeth from foods and drinks you consume daily that are not regularly brushed and flossed away. Over time, the dental plaque thickens on your teeth, turning into pale yellow deposits that cannot be brushed away. If not removed by your dental hygienist or dentist, this plaque will eventually irritate your gums, creating the inflammation that results in Gingivitis.
Gingivitis is the condition that most often results in your gums bleeding when you brush your teeth. You may notice that your gums are tender, bright red instead of healthy pink, and may appear to be receding from the base of your teeth. In mild Gingivitis, the dental plaque can be removed by your dental hygienist or dentist, and you will be given instructions on home oral care to ensure the irritation does not return or progress into infection. A follow up appointment will be scheduled to assess the condition of your gums and determine if your home oral care is sufficient. If evidence of infection is present, an antibiotic may be prescribed. Left untreated, Gingivitis will progress to the more severe Periodontitis. This is why diagnosing Gingivitis at an early stage is so important.
Periodontitis also know as pyorrhoea, is an inflammatory disease where bacterial infection has progressed into the deeper tooth-supporting tissues, causing irreversible destruction of the alveolar bone around the teeth. Deep periodontal pockets are created where bacteria reside, and if not removed, bone destruction continues until the tooth is no longer supported and is lost.
Gum disease treatments involve removing dental plaque under local anaesthetic by scaling tooth surfaces to and beneath the gum line, as well as treating the gum tissue with antibiotics.
Gum disease can be avoided when your first-line oral health care defences are followed:
Other gum disease risk factors include: