Basic Information on Periodontal (Gum) Disease
What is it?
Periodontal disease is a chronic complex multifactorial infection. The main factors include the presence of dental plaque, dental calculus (tartar) and host susceptibility.
The disease initially presents as inflamed gums that bleed easily when brushing or flossing your teeth. As the disease progresses, one may notice recession of the gums that exposes the root surfaces of affected teeth. If periodontal disease is left untreated, it may lead to the loosening of teeth and/or painful gum infections that are usually best treated by extractions.
There is increasing evidence that suggests periodontal disease may be linked to diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy complications and other medical conditions. Research in these areas are ongoing.
Periodontal disease is usually a slow-progressing disease that is asymptomatic, very much like heart disease. Most affected patients are not even aware that they have a problem.
What treatment do we recommend?
Depending on the severity of the disease, treatment may involve scaling, polishing and oral hygiene instructions only for mild cases.
In advanced cases, treatment will involve deep scaling and root planing under local anaesthesia. For severe cases, referral to the periodontist (a specialist) is indicated.
Periodontal disease is a chronic disease - there is no cure. Our treatment goals are to control the disease and to prevent its progression. Just like with diabetes, there is usually no problem if it is well-controlled but potential complications develop if it is poorly-controlled.
Good oral hygiene is the basic requirement to manage the disease. Regular ongoing professional maintenance (e.g. 3 to 6 monthly recall check-ups, scaling and polishing) is recommended.
Risk of periodontal disease increases if you are a smoker, have uncontrolled diabetes or have a family history of periodontitis.