There are two categories:
- Gingivitis: this is a curable inflammation of the gum. It manifests as a reddened gum that bleeds easily and may be swollen. If not treated it can develop into periodontitis.
- Periodontitis or periodontal disease is a chronic condition that destroys the bone that holds the tooth. The irreversible bone loss and receding of the gums, if not treated, will lead to loose teeth that will eventually fall out.
There are three degrees of severity:
What causes them?
Both gingivitis and periodontitis are due to the accumulation of bacterial plaque and/or calculus (tartar) where the tooth meets the gum.
At Clínica Dental Oris we know that other factors in addition to poor oral hygiene that can play a part in the development of this condition are:
Smoking decreases the gum’s defences
Smokers have a 6 times greater risk of losing their teeth
- Obturation or poorly fitting prostheses
- A nervous habit of clenching or grinding teeth
At Clínica Dental Oris, our treatment aims to eliminate as many of these factors as possible.
There is also a genetic predisposition to periodontal disease, so it is common that several members of the same family will suffer from it.
Gingivitis and periodontitis can also be related to various drugs (medication for hypertension, epilepsy, patients who take a lot of medication, etc.) and it is necessary to assess the treatment to follow in each case.
Periodontitis is related to conditions such as diabetes. Gum infections increase sugar levels and poorly controlled diabetes makes periodontitis even more destructive.
In women, hormonal factors during puberty, pregnancy and menopause can affect the gums and bring about various changes, which are treatable.
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms are:
- BLEEDING: the gums bleed now and again, when the teeth are brushed. In severe cases, one may find blood on one’s pillow. In many cases of periodontal disease, there is no noticeable bleeding. Patients who smoke bleed less.
- RED GUMS: healthy gums are pink in colour but if they are inflamed, they are reddish.
- LONG TEETH: the gum retracts, leaving the roots uncovered.
- SENSITIVITY TO COLD: because of the exposure of the root.
- LOOSE TEETH: the teeth move to different degrees and can even fall out if not properly treated.
- GAPS BETWEEN TEETH: the teeth get displaced, become less functional and take on an unattractive appearance.
- GUM BOILS: in the most advanced stages of the disease.
Gum disease does NOT generally cause pain, so in many cases it is not detected if the person does not visit their dentist, hygienist or periodontist (gum specialist).
To make a proper diagnosis, the periodontist will carefully study the gums, take x-rays and produce a periodontal chart (a “map of the gums”, which will help him or her to understand the condition of the bone and gum.
How can it be prevented?
The most effective way of preventing periodontal disease is to perform rigorous oral hygiene and regularly visit the dentist, as early diagnosis will allow simpler treatment procedures.
If the disease has already been properly treated, the periodontist and the hygienist should show you how to brush your teeth and gums properly using the most suitable instruments for you.
Because periodontal disease is a chronic condition, in all cases the patient will have to have regular appointments to avoid relapses and maintain healthy gums.
For further information, please contact our team at Clínica Dental Oris.