At The London Clinic your dental health and wellbeing is our priority.
The earlier you start your hygiene and periodontal care, the better the outcome. We can help prevent more serious damage to your teeth and gums so you can look forward to keeping your smile for life.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease
More than 45% of adults in Australia are affected by gum disease and, even at its most mild level, it can affect quality of life.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is the most common non-communicable disease in mankind and the main cause of tooth loss. It is the infection of the structures that surround the teeth- the gums, bone, the cementum that covers the roots and the ligaments.
People are often unaware they have it because it is not painful and doesn’t affect their daily life, but if left untreated the impact can be serious, damaging the bone and tissue that support the teeth.
Types of gum disease:
There are different forms of gum disease, but the most common are gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is inflammation of the superficial soft tissue supporting the tooth, leading to swelling, redness and bleeding. Gingivitis is a prerequisite for periodontitis.
Whilst not all cases of gingivitis will progress to periodontitis, managing the former is a vital primary preventive strategy for the latter. Gingivitis is reversible and may be treated with the help of hygiene sessions and improved oral hygiene.
Periodontitis involves the deeper supporting structures including bone destruction. Sadly this bone destruction is generally, irreversible.
What causes gum disease?
Dental bacterial plaque is the major determinant of gingivitis and periodontitis. This is a visible white, sticky film that forms on your teeth.
- Inherited/genetic susceptibility
- Medication that reduces saliva
- Lifestyle-Stress, lack of sleep, mental health, alcohol
- Nutritional deficiencies- calcium, Vitamin C and B
Accumulation of plaque is the most common cause; a number of factors can contribute and aggravate the condition. These include:
The symptoms of gum disease
- People are often unaware that they have gum disease as its not painful (unless the condition flares-up causing a periodontal abscess)
- Red swollen gums
- Bleeding gums during brushing, eating or spontaneously
- Bad breath and bad taste
- Loose teeth and early loss of teeth
- Gaps between your teeth- migrating teeth
- Black triangles where the inter-dental gingival tip is lost
- Receding gums
- A change in the way the teeth fit/bite
Gum disease and tooth loss can lead to nutritional compromise and a negative impact on self-esteem and quality of life.
Preventing gum disease:
- Visit your dentist and your hygienist – it’s recommend that you attend regular appointments depending on your susceptibility. At The London Clinic we advise visiting for your dental examination and clean twice a year.
- Brush your teeth well, twice a day (morning and night) using toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Perfecting a good brushing technique – brushing should last at least 2 minutes. Brushing with the correct technique is extremely important – At The London Clinic we can teach you how to brush correctly. If you have any questions please ask your dentist at your next appointment.
- Using an electric toothbrush can provide you with good dexterity to reach all those important areas.
- Cleaning between your teeth is essential (using inter-dental brushes of the correct size or floss).
- A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Consider counselling on how to stop smoking.
- Discuss approaches for weight loss and controlling sugar intake.
- Studies have suggested long-term gum disease can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and premature childbirth, so preventing periodontitis could be beneficial for your general health.
- Studies have also proven a strong relationship between diabetes and gum disease. If you have diabetes and concerned about gum disease, ask your dentist for advise at your next visit at The London Clinic.
Treating gum disease
The treatment administered depends on to what extent you are suffering with gum disease. Your dentist or hygienist will discuss the necessary course of action for you before beginning with any treatment.
If you have the early signs of gum disease, such as gingivitis, then your dentist or specialist periodontist will begin by cleaning your teeth. This process is known as scaling and root planing and begins with a deep clean using an electric toothbrush, gritty toothpaste and specialist instruments called scalers. This helps to remove tartar from the gum line and remove the bacteria from the tooth root where the disease is prone to develop. Extensive scaling may be required if gingivitis has developed into periodontitis. You may need a local anaesthetic injected into your gums to block the feeling, although you will remain conscious during the treatment.
If your gum disease is moderate to advanced you may be referred over to see a specialist periodontist for further treatment including surgery.
Antibiotics and other medications
Medications may be prescribed in conjunction with a deep cleaning treatment. Antibiotics, alone, are not considered an effective way of treating periodontitis but are still used as therapeutic adjuncts in severe cases of gum disease. Over the counter paracetamol and ibuprofen are generally effective at relieving any post-operative discomfort.
Your dentist may recommend using an antiseptic mouthwash to incorporate into your daily routine. By using a mouthwash after brushing, it helps to control the build up of bacterial plaque that forms around the teeth. Gargling your mouth with a medicated rinse ensures any residue is cleared away after brushing.
What does a hygienist do in the Practice?
The hygienist’s main work is to prevent and treat gum disease including professionally cleaning your teeth. This is usually called ‘scaling and polishing’. However, perhaps their most important role is showing you the best way to keep your teeth free of plaque.
They also give advice on diet and preventing dental decay. The hygienist will work alongside your dentist to give you care that is tailored to your needs.
What is plaque?
Plaque is a sticky coating consisting of bacteria that forms constantly on your teeth. If it is not brushed away properly, this hardens to form tartar/calculus which you cannot remove yourself.
Persistent plaque and calculus can lead to periodontal disease causing bleeding gums, tooth mobility and eventual tooth loss.
What treatment is available for children?
Children can benefit from having their teeth cleaned and polished. The dentist or hygienist can also apply fluoride varnishes to help prevent decay.
The permanent (or ‘adult’) back teeth can also benefit from having the biting surfaces sealed (Fissure sealants). This is done by applying a special plastic coating to the biting surface soon after the teeth come through reducing the risk of tooth decay in deep fissures that cannot be easily cleaned.
What other help can be given to adults?
Adults who have a lot of decay can benefit from having fluoride applied. They can also have anti-bacterial gels and solutions applied under the gum to kill the bacteria causing gum disease.
The dentist or hygienist may also give smoking cessation advice. Smoking is a big factor in causing periodontal disease, bone loss, oral cancer, reduced healing after extractions/surgery and staining of teeth.
Maintaining good oral hygiene is the most important thing you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they are also important in achieving and maintaining overall well-being and vitality. Regular oral hygiene is a crucial element of any dental treatment plan. In order to maintain a beautiful smile, you must look after your teeth and gums on a regular basis.
- Brush at least twice daily. Brush for at least 2 minutes each time.
- Floss daily or use interdental brushes
- Replace your toothbrush regularly. (We recommend every 3-4 months)
- Use toothpaste with fluoride
- Ensure you keep consistent checkups to our practice.
Maintaining regular dental checkups at The London Clinic is key to preventing any serious diseases from developing. General checkups detect any potential problems early, possibly lessening your expenses for serious dental treatment. We recommend that you visit The London Clinic at least every 6 months to ensure you maintain great oral health.
The team at The London Clinic believe in providing high quality preventive dental care to ensure your teeth and mouth are happy and healthy.