Patient info

Healthy gums are robust tissues that are usually a little pink in colour, with slight stippling. This stippling will usually disappear if the tissues are swollen or inflamed. They should not normally bleed under normal stress, such as brushing off the teeth. Periodontal Disease is group of diseases that affect the gums (Periodontium). Although there are 8 broad categories, the two most common forms are gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is a reversible disease of the gums. Although very common, it is reversible and good brushing will usually prevent it. The signs and symptoms include swollen gums and bleeding. Your dentist can review and treat gingivitis.
Periodontitis is the body’s response to plaque (known as biofilm). It is found in 10-15% of the population and results in irreversible bone loss. Although it was formerly known as pyorrhea, it is a chronic disease with many sufferers not being aware they have it.
The result of the disease is that patients will loose bone around their teeth and this is reflected clinically as recession (long in the tooth) or an increase in pockets depths. It is important that your dentist measures your periodontal pockets to see if you have periodontal disease on a regular basis.
Periodontal disease is similar to getting a splinter under your skin. Whilst some people will get very little reaction, others will get an area around the splinter that is red and swollen. The splinter is very much like plaque. The body’s response to this splinter is mediated by the immune system. Whilst some people will tolerate the splinter, others will respond in an adverse manner. As a result, the inflammation will result in bone being lost around the tooth.
Periodontal disease is all about the host response to the plaque (biofilm). The plaque levels are determined by how well the patient is cleaning. The host response is mainly determined by genetics and it is modified by smoking and diabetes.
Using the splinter analogy above, the infection will improve if the splinter is removed. This is the basis of periodontal treatment, which reduces the biofilm to a level that the body can accept. Our skilled Periodontist removes the calculus (tartar) and biofilm from the tooth’s root surfaces to allow the body’s healing response to take effect. This procedure is usually done under local anesthetic for patient comfort.
Although most people respond to treatment, periodontal disease is never “cured” as the immune system has not been changed; hence the disease process is hopefully controlled (similar to diabetes). In most cases, we aim to maximise outcomes, which is assisted by the patients oral hygiene and regular maintenance. An important aspect to this is that regular maintenance allows the monitoring of the disease and the ability to identify any areas before they become a problem.
Diagnosis of periodontitis is usually done after a thorough exam and consultation, which includes a medical history, a complete dental history and charting, probing of pockets depths and a review of x-rays (usually an OPG).

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