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What is gum disease?

The condition you may refer to as “gum disease” also is also known as “periodontitis”.

Periodontal disease is an inflammation of the gums that, when severe, can lead to the loss of the tissue that holds our teeth in place. The cause is plaque, a sticky bacterial film that constantly forms on the teeth. You can remove plaque by brushing your teeth twice a day, in addition to clean the interdental spaces once a day. If plaque is not removed, the gums can detach from the teeth, forming pockets where more and more bacteria can accumulate. Plaque that is not removed hardens into calculus along and under your gums. The pockets and calculus make it difficult to remove plaque without professional help, and periodontitis can develop. Left untreated, periodontal disease can damage the tissues that support your teeth, even the bone.


What is the difference between plaque and calculus?

Plaque is the sticky, colourless film that constantly forms on your teeth. Bacteria that live in plaque and secrete acids cause tooth decay and irritate gum tissue. This irritation causes an inflammatory reaction that can ultimately lead to gingivitis and periodontitis. If plaque is nor removed regularly by tooth brushing and flossing or the use of interdental brushes, it hardens and calculus forms. Calculus can no longer be removed with a toothbrush; only a dental professional can remove it during an oral cleaning.

To keep plaque and calculus under control, it is essential to brush your teeth twice every day and see your dental professional for regular professional dental cleanings.


What are the most common signs and symptoms of periodontal – gum disease?

Periodontal disease is often silent, meaning symptoms (particularly pain) may not appear until the disease is at an advanced stage. However, you should still be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms, including:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth.

  • Bleeding when brushing, flossing, or eating certain foods.

  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, making teeth appear longer than before.

  • Loose or spaced teeth.

  • Pus between gums and teeth.

  • Sores in your mouth.

  • Persistent bad breath (halitosis).

  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.

  • A change in the fit of your partial denture.

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your dentist or periodontist immediately.


Is periodontal disease contagious?

Research has shown that periodontitis is caused by the inflammatory response to bacteria under the gums, so technically periodontal disease may not be contagious. However, the bacteria that trigger the inflammatory reaction can spread through the saliva. This means that if one of your family members has periodontal disease, it is a good idea to avoid contact with their saliva by not sharing cutlery or oral health equipment. If you notice that your spouse or family member has the warning signs of a possible periodontal problem, you may want to suggest that they see the periodontist for an examination.


If I was recently diagnosed with periodontitis, how often should I see my dentist for an examination?

Regular check-ups are very important to follow the current status of your disease and any disease progression over time. Your dentist will work with you to create a maintenance plan depending on how advanced your periodontal disease is at that time. Based on many variable factors, such as your general health, the severity of bone loss, and risk factors such as smocking and genetics, your periodontist will constantly adjust your care to keep your periodontitis from progressing. He / she may recommend check-ups every six months for mild periodontal disease or every few months for advanced stages.


Gum disease treatments:

Treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition.

  • Plaque removal (soft deposits on the tooth).

  • Calculus removal - professional dental cleaning, and sometimes through additional procedures of deep scaling and root planning.

  • In the case of pocket formation due to bone recession the decontamination can be supported by LASER application and may be used to reduce the pocket size.

  • Tissue regeneration (bone grafting)

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