Gum (Periodontal) disease, or periodontitis represents the number one cause of tooth loss in Australia and may develop without any symptoms, so often your dentist is the first to identify it. Gum disease damages the bone surrounding the teeth in response to certain oral bacteria. Around 15% of the population has periodontitis to some degree whether it is mild moderate or advanced destruction.
What are the signs of gum disease?
- Red, swollen, tender, painful or bleeding gums
- Receded gums and exposed root surfaces
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth that may drift to form gaps between the teeth. In severe cases tooth loss may result.
What are the risk factors for periodontitis?
- Family history
- Poorly controlled diabetes
- Poor oral hygiene
How is it treated?
Previous bone loss as a result of this disease can be reversed in some cases, but in many circumstances it cannot,. Regular dental checkups are your best chance for detection of the early onset of the disease and prevent it from progressing further.
Professional treatment involves regular (usually 3 monthly) thorough cleaning and elimination of the causative bacteria underneath the gum level.
Behavioural and hygiene modifications are the most important aspect of long term maintenance of the gum condition. Patients are encouraged to quit smoking and ensure their diabetes is well controlled.
Below are examples of Periodontal Disease and X-Rays which show bone loss which can occur. Click on the images for a larger view.