Gum Disease

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If there is one single thing that will most likely cause you to lose all your teeth, it’s this, Gum disease. There are different names for gum disease such as phorrhea, gingivitis, periodontal disease and periodontitis. The reason why gum disease is so sinister is that it can be present for a long time and the patient is totally oblivious. Often by the time the patient becomes aware of it, alas it is too late. The teeth have become too loose or gum abscesses start appearing making extractions the only option left to you. As a patient if you get any of these symptoms, you must tell your dentist to check things out. These symptoms are bleeding gums during brushing, bad breath ( tested by licking the back of your hand and smelling it) and teeth becoming more sensitive or loose.  Of course if you are a smoker, then the chances are that you will much more likely than non-smokers to develop this condition.

So let’s say you notice the above symptoms. The most important question you need to ask your dentist is a measurement called a BPE. So be upfront and ask your dentist what your BPE is. So what is a BPE anyway. It stands for Basic Periodontal Examination.  Dentists use a specially calibrated probe to take readings in your mouth when they examine you. These readings form a BPE and tell you if you have any gum disease and more importantly, what treatment is required to treat it.

The mildest form of gum disease is called gingivitis. This means that your gums are more inflamed than they should be but no permanent damage has actually occurred yet. In other words, everything is still reversible and your gums can go back to how they were. The best thing about this gingivitis is that it is in most cases, simply treated by brushing better and more correctly. A dental hygienist can show you the best techniques and also recommend the best toothbrush to use. Even a mouthwash is not needed to get rid of gingivitis and your gums can return to normal in only one to two weeks of proper brushing.

So if you notice any kind of bleeding from your gums, get your dentist to carry out a BPE reading straight away.

So what happens if you ignore the gingivitis? The next stage of progression is called “attachment loss and periodontal breakdown.” This means that the way the gum attaches onto the teeth to keep them firm, is attacked and that is why the gums start shrinking or receding and the teeth become wobbly and loose. At this stage, treatments can be done to make sure further damage does not occur. The treatment involves multiple visits on a regular basis and there is no guarantee of eliminating the gum infection. Treatment of advanced gum disease can be a lengthy process but well worth the effort as the horrible alternative is to start losing teeth.

REFERENCES

 

Clinical Problem Solving in Periodontology and Implantology

by Francis J. Hughes BDS PhD FDS RCS

 

Periodontal symptoms and inflammation following non-surgical treatment and 4 months of fish oil supplementation

  1. Alison Coates
  2. Tracy Fitzsimmons
  3. Brian Chee
  4. Boram Park
  5. Kostas Kapellas
  6. Peter Howe1
  7. Ryan Lee
  8. Saso Ivanovski

 

Int J Dent. 2014; 2014: 182513.

Risk Factors of Periodontal Disease: Review of the Literature

Yousef A. AlJehani