Gum disease occurs when plaque and tartar build up occurs on the teeth. Gum disease results in receding gums which, left untreated, can result in weakened or even lost teeth.
In most cases, gum disease is prevented by looking after your teeth with a good regular oral hygiene regime which includes brushing, flossing and regular visits to your dentist and dental hygienist.
It is fairly common to suffer from a mild form of gum disease, known as gingivitis, which can lead to bleeding gums, and often the plaque will harden on the teeth, forming a calcified deposit (calculus or tartar). These reversible problems can be treated, and further disease prevented, through regular cleaning appointments with a dentist or dental hygienist.
A small proportion of the population (10-20%) are genetically more susceptible to the effects of plaque, where permanent, irreversible damage may be caused to the attachment of the gum to the tooth, known as Periodontitis. This can result in a formation of gaps between the gums and teeth, known as pockets, in which more plaque can collect and thus continue the progression of the disease. As the pockets deepen, the plaque becomes more inaccessible to cleaning, more extensive and more toxic. This leads to increasing damage to the supporting bone around the roots of the teeth.
Periodontal treatment is undertaken to control gum disease and reduce the effect on the support of the tooth, as well as preventing and dealing with the receding gums. The majority of Periodontal treatment involves thoroughly cleaning the tooth root surface. However, it can also involve surgical and restorative techniques.
After initial stabilisation of the condition has been achieved, the aim is to be able to control the predisposition to the disease through a lifelong home care regime, with regular monitoring and maintenance from your dentist and dental hygienist.