Q. What is gum disease?
A. Gum disease or periodental disease is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. We used to think that taking care of the teeth is good enough but actually a healthy gum is as important as a good set of teeth. Gum disease is the main cause of tooth loss in adults and it is scientifically proven that periodontitis, an advanced stage of gum disease, is a significant risk for cardiovascular disease.
Q. What are the signs of gum disease?
A. There are many, to name a few:
-Bleeding gum when brushing or flossing
-Red, swollen gums
-Bad breath that doesn't go away
-Tartar or calculus build-up around teeth collar
Q. What are the causes of gum disease?
A. Gum disease is cause by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth after meals. If left undisturbed, calcium from saliva can be deposited on plaque and become tartar (calculus) full of all kinds of germs. These germs create toxins that damage the gums and the bone surrounding the teeth. Eventually the tooth becomes loose for lack of support and fall out.
Q. Can we prevent gum disease?
A. In the early stage, yes, by daily brushing and flossing correctly. Regular professional check-ups and cleanings will help greatly.
Q. Can we treat gum disease?
A. It depends on how early it has been noticed and treated. A bad aspect about gum disease is that it is often painless at takes years to become a real problem.
In this early stage, gum disease is called gingivitis and there is no bone loss yet. The gums can be red, swollen and bleeds easily. At this stage, the disease is reversible and can be eliminated by professional cleanings and good daily maintenance by correct brushing and flossing.
In the advanced stage, gum disease is called periodontitis with more or less damaged gums and bone. The teeth can become loose, fall out or have to be removed. The role of the dentist will be to stop the disease and to restore the occlusion by appropriate treatment -e.g. cleaning, deep cleaning, extraction and/or gum surgery, implants, bridges, dentures...
Q. Is there any medicine or vaccination that can prevent gum disease?
A. Unfortunately there is no vaccination available yet to prevent gum disease although there have been extensive research and studies about that aspect.
Recently, there have been encouraging results when using low dosage of tetracycline daily (Periostat) to prevent and even to cure early stages of gum disease. The treatment has to be monitored by a dentist though.