Oral health

Periodontics

The term periodontics refers to the supporting tissues of the teeth. The tissues include:

  • Aveolar bone
  • Cementum
  • Gingiva
  • Periodontal ligament.

These tissues can become sore, swollen and infected leading to gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gingivitis 

The signs of gingivitis are red and swollen gums, bleeding gums, bad breath and a bad taste in your mouth. This is the early stage of gum disease. If gum disease is not treated, it can develop to periodontitis. Gingivitis is reversible. 

Periodontitis 

When the disease has spread to involve the bone and tissue it is called periodontitis. The signs of periodontitis are all of those listed with gingivitis, loss of bone, loss of periodontal ligament, loss of cementum, recession of the gingivae, loose teeth, drifting of teeth. Periodontitis has been viewed as irreversible, however if you clean your periodontal tissues to a consistently high standard, guided tissue regeneration techniques can lead to some regeneration of the damaged tissues.

Causes

Periodontitis is common but largely preventable. It can by caused by many different factors.

Factors which may increase susceptibility are:

  • Smoking
  • Hormones
  • Oral hygiene
  • Diabetes
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications
  • Stress
  • Heredity.

Treatment

Treatment may be performed by a specialist periodontist, a dentist or a dental hygienist.

Some of the dental treatments below may be recommended if you have pockets between your gums and your teeth that are 5mm or less in depth.

  1. Scaling ­– to remove plaque and tartar, your dentist may scale the surfaces of your tooth and beneath your gums. This is usually performed using an ultrasonic device
  2. Root planning – your dentist may deep clean under the gums to remove bacteria from the roots of your teeth
  3. Antibiotics.

In more serious cases of periodontitis, surgical treatments may be required.

  1. Periodontal flap surgery
  • Periodontal flap surgery is typically performed after non-surgical treatment has been addressed. The main aims of surgery are to remove all bacteria from the root of the tooth, to promote regrowth and to increase the height of the tooth (crown lengthening).

Prevention

There are a number of ways to lower your risk of periodontal disease:

  1. Regular dental check-ups
  2. Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time
  3. Using dental floss
  4. Avoid tobacco use
  5. Eating a healthy diet
  6. Be aware of your own risks (genetics and age may play a part).