Gum Disease

What is gum or periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an inflammatory disease of the gums and bone that support your teeth. Although it is very serious, it's usually painless and the only signs may be bad breath and/or bleeding gums.

What is affected?

  • Gingiva or gums which are part of the soft tissue lining of the mouth
  • Alveolar bone which is the bone that supports your teeth
  • Periodontal ligaments which are the thin tissues that connect the tooth to the bony socket

Periodontal disease is the main cause of tooth loss in Australia. The bacteria found in periodontal disease are very harmful and contribute to many other serious diseases including:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Respiratory disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

When inflammation occurs, the signs and symptoms will primarily affect the gums, resulting in swelling, redness, bleeding and recession. When the inflammation is confined to the gum layer, it is known as gingivitis. Gingivitis is the most common disease in the world, and if not managed can spread to the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone resulting in more serious periodontitis (periodontal disease) and ultimately, tooth loss. 

What causes Periodontal disease?

Periodontitis is characterised by irreversible loss of the bone supporting your teeth. It’s usually caused by unfavourable bacteria in the mouth where inadequate tooth brushing and a lack of flossing have allowed bacteria to accumulate on the teeth, gum margins and tongue. 

Plaque is a biofilm of bacteria that builds up on teeth and if not removed regularly, it becomes hard and turns into what is known as calculus or tartar. Calculus forms with the continual accumulation of minerals from saliva and plaque on the teeth; its rough surface provides an ideal surface for further plaque formation causing inflamed and unhealthy gums. If not effectively removed, plaque and calculus result in gingivitis that can lead to periodontitis and teeth becoming loose or even falling out!

 Factors of periodontal disease are:  

  • Compromised immune system/stress
  • Diabetes
  • Genetic
  • Inadequate brushing and/or flossing
  • Medication
  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy
  • Puberty
  • Smoking

Can periodontal disease be treated?

Gingivitis can be treated and is reversible. Initially the dental plaque and calculus is professionally removed by one of our hygienists. Once this is done, regular and effective brushing and flossing at home will keep the plaque off your teeth and your gums should return to health within days.

Periodontal disease is NOT reversible. Once the supporting structures (bone) have been lost they do not regenerate. Excessive bone loss may result in gum recession and unsightly elongation of the teeth. Once the gum and bone are lost, they are lost forever. If too much bone is lost, teeth will become loose and can even fall out. Periodontal disease must be treated by removing all of the plaque and calculus above AND below the gums. This is aimed at preventing any further bone loss and spread of the disease to other teeth.


Scaling and Root planing

What is scaling and root planing?

Scaling and root planing is the scraping of plaque and the bacteria-impregnated layer of calculus from above and below your gums to restore health to your mouth. 

Scaling procedures include the following:

  • Removal of plaque – a biofilm that builds up on the teeth
  • Removal of calculus – a hardened form of dental plaque 
  • Removal of stains from the crown and root surfaces of the teeth

How is scaling and root planing performed?

Our hygienists are highly trained in using ultrasonic cleaners and hand instruments to remove plaque and calculus from all areas of your teeth. First we use an ultrasonic cleaner that vibrates debris off your teeth and flushes the gums with water to remove bacteria. Next a series of very specialised hand instruments are used to gently remove any remaining spots of calculus in hard-to-reach areas. Finally, your teeth are polished and flossed.   

The number of visits necessary depends on the severity of the gum disease that you may have. Up to four treatments may be recommended to treat each quarter of your mouth. At bc dental, we offer local anaesthetic and happy gas to help make the experience more enjoyable. 

How will I feel after my scaling and root planing appointments?

After your appointment you will be able to drive, work, eat and have a normal day. You may feel slight gum tenderness after the anaesthetic wears off. As the inflammation subsides and your gums become healthy, you will notice that the gums ‘shrink’ and stop bleeding. With this shrinkage it is common to experience:

  • Sensitivity which may last for several weeks
  • Apparent lengthening of the teeth as the gums shrink back
  • Triangular shaped spaces may appear between the teeth and gum line

Although these symptoms are undesirable, remember they are the signs of healing and returning health 

Click here for After care instructions for deep cleaning

Routine maintenance

Maintenance appointments allow your oral hygienist to evaluate your response to treatment and home care. If needed, a personalised maintenance plan will be recommended including recall hygiene appointments. Recall visits are critical to maintaining a healthy mouth for the rest of your life.

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