An overlooked issue
The general population is unfamiliar with periodontal diseases, or gum diseases, but their symptoms can be very damaging. It is our duty to take the necessary measures to help prevent their occurrence by educating our clients.
The first signs of periodontal disease are:
- recurring bad breath;
- teeth that seem to have moved;
- loose teeth;
- discoloured and swollen gums;
- gums that bleed easily, or have a different appearance.
Left untreated, gingivitis (gum inflammation) turns into periodontitis, a more advanced stage of periodontal disease. At that point, the bones that hold the teeth together begin to deteriorate.
It is important to note that periodontal disease can or cannot be painful.
Close to 70% of adults are infected with this disease, at least to some degree. However, the most alarming fact on periodontal disease is that it is the cause of the majority of teeth loss amongst adults.
A sneaky condition
The invisible and sticky bacterial film that builds up on the teeth every day is the main source of gum diseases. Plaque is formed of different kinds of bacteria combined with saliva, food deposits and the fluid secreted under the gums.
It mostly forms between the teeth and around the gums. Over time, plaque will harden into tartar, a calcified and tough substance that can only be removed by a dental-care professional.
Diagnosis and treatment
The main goal of periodontal treatment is to restore back to health damaged gums.
The steps of the procedure are usually as follows: scaling (plaque and tartar removal), root planing (technique to smoothen the tooth’s root after deposits have been removed) and curettage (scraping of the inflamed tissue and plaque from the gums).
Sometimes, antibiotics are prescribed. In more serious cases, surgical interventions are needed in order to remove the plaque built up in the pockets and bring the gums and bones back to a state more suitable to brushing and dental floss use.
Gingival graft (gum tissue graft)
- is coral pink, firm and resilient;
- holds tight on each tooth;
- acts as a shield and reduces the risk of gums receding.
Receding or thinning is caused by:
- periodontal diseases;
- excessive brushing;
- the gingival fibres (connective muscular tissue) pulling on the gums;
- bad habits (chewing on a pencil, piercings, etc.)
To fix this problem, dentists have to conduct a gingival graft (autograft or with connective tissue).
Steps of the treatment:
- Explaining the treatment to the patient;
- Preparing the area to be grafted;
- Collecting the graft from the donor site (the palate, usually);
- Stitching of the graft to the receding area;
- Following up on the healing process a week later.