Periodontal disease is used to describe chronic inflammation of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. The most common form of periodontal disease is gingivitis.
Gingivitis is defined as inflammation restricted to the tissues of the gums, which become red and swollen, and bleed easily. It is caused by the presence of bacteria in the undisturbed plaque that rests in the crevice of the gum around the tooth. There is no destruction of the supporting bone or ligaments, making it reversible with appropriate dental treatment, unlike periodontitis.
Periodontitis is inflammation affecting the gums and ligaments, as well as tooth roots and supporting bone which can result in drifting of teeth or tooth loss. It is often associated with halitosis (bad breath) and bad taste as the bacteria develop in the pockets of gums around the teeth. Major risk factors include smoking and poorly controlled diabetes. Management usually involves debridement of the calculus (tartar) deposits from under the gums usually under a local anaesthetic, some cases may require surgical treatment.
How do I prevent periodontal disease?
Ensure you’re brushing towards the gums gently morning and night, as well as nightly flossing, aiming to hug the tooth and allow the floss to glide under the gums. This will help disrupt the bacteria in the crevice of the gum surrounding the teeth before it has a chance to become acidic. Reducing risk factors such as smoking and controlling diabetes can help reduce onset and progression of periodontal disease. Regular professional cleans will also help to maintain your gum health, usually recommended for every 6 months, sometimes more frequently depending on the conditions of your gums and risk factors.