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Gum disease treatment

Most people have suffered from gum disease at some point in their lives. Red, swollen or bleeding gums are the early warning signs. Here we look at what gum disease is and how it’s treated.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, affects the gums, the bone around the root and the fibres that hold the root in the bone. It’s caused by a build-up of bacteria, called dental plaque, that gathers around the gum line. This bacteria irritates the gums, causing them to become red, swollen and bleeding (a condition called gingivitis).

 

If left untreated, the body tries to get rid of the bacteria, causing damage to the fibres and bone around the roots. This irreversible damage leads to bone loss, and teeth can become loose, painful and need to be removed. Periodontal disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults and between 10-15% of the UK population have a severe form

Dr Gahan is a registered periodontist and has over 21 years' experience of treating periodontal disease. If you have any questions about gum disease treatment, please don't hesitate to contact him. Or you can book a consultation with Dr Gahan by calling Finkle Hill Dental Centre on 01977 682 200 or emailing hello@finklehilldental.co.uk.

What are the stages of gum disease?

  • Gingivitis

The first stage of gum disease is mostly caused by irregular or improper brushing and flossing, allowing a build-up of plaque on your teeth. It’s essential to treat your symptoms at this stage before it develops into something more serious.

  • Periodontitis or periodontal disease

If gingivitis isn’t treated, it can progress into periodontitis. Your body will try and fight off the infection caused by the dental plaque, a process which can cause the gums to recede and develop gaps (periodontal pockets) around the teeth.

  • Moderate to advanced periodontitis / periodontal disease

This is the most severe form of gum disease. Periodontal pockets deepen, causing bone loss and loose teeth.

Quitting smoking will reduce your risk of gum disease. A recent study showed that the risk of periodontitis among those who have stopped  smoking is not that different from people who have never smoked.

People with moderate periodontitis have a 22% higher risk of hypertension. While for those with severe periodontitis, the risk rises to 49%

Recent studies have shown that women with periodontal disease are up to three times more likely to develop breast cancer. It has also been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and most recently, Alzheimer's.

What are the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease?

  • Red, swollen gums

  • Bleeding gums when brushing or even while eating

  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth

  • Persistent bad breath

  • You may get abscesses – pus-filled boils - on your gums

  • Receding gums / longer-looking teeth 

  • Loose teeth or teeth moving position in the mouth

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Dental plaque

The major cause of gum disease is a build-up of plaque, which is a film of bacteria on and between the teeth. If plaque isn’t removed by regular brushing and flossing, it can change consistency and become more irritating, and the body reacts to the build-up. 

 

Irritated gums cause swelling, redness and soreness and the body then tries to fight this inflammation and infection. This causes the gums to break down and detach from the tooth, forming a space between the tooth and gums. This is called a periodontal pocket. Plaque which accumulates here is harder to remove, and the problem gets worse.

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Smoking

Smoking is by far the biggest contributing factor of gum disease. People who smoke are more likely to develop gum disease, and often more severe forms of it, with deeper periodontal pockets and more bone loss. 

 

Smoking can also hide the symptoms of gum disease because the nicotine in cigarettes restricts blood vessels, so the early warning signs can be missed. Furthermore, smoking reduces the healing of the gums, making treatment less successful.

 

Because of this, Dr Gahan advises his patients to focus on stopping smoking before gum disease treatment.  The NHS provide lots of support if you want to stop smoking, so talk to your GP first. 

Diabetes Self Management Program

Diabetes

People with diabetes are also at higher risk of gum disease.

 

Patients with Type 2 diabetes are three times more likely to develop gum disease. The risk is higher for Type 1 as well.

 

Higher blood sugar levels lead to higher saliva sugar levels in the mouth for bacteria to feed on. High blood sugar levels can also damage the blood vessels, reducing the supply of oxygen to the gums and making them more susceptible to infection.

What causes gum disease?

Who can treat gum disease?

General dentists, hygiene therapists and specialist periodontists can offer gum disease treatment. Specialists have different techniques available to them to combat the disease and regenerate the lost bone.  

What will happen at my consultation?

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of periodontal disease, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. They may advise you to see a periodontist (a specialist in gum disease) and refer you to Dr Gahan. Specialists are registered with the General Dental Council as being experts in gum disease, having had years of training and assessment.

 

At your gum disease treatment appointment, we will discuss what your main concerns are and then assess the condition of the teeth and gums. We will do some X-rays to accurately determine the amount of bone that has been lost. These tests will help establish the level of periodontal disease and what further treatment may be necessary. You will be given an explanation of the findings and a plan for periodontal treatment. Sometimes further tests are required for a more detailed plan.  

How is gum disease treated?

The most important aspect of treatment is to remove the main cause of the gum disease: dental plaque. You will be shown effective techniques to thoroughly clean the whole mouth. This stage is vital as failure to remove plaque will hinder the success of any further treatment. Keeping up the motivation and ability to maintain very low levels of plaque will determine how successful your gum disease treatment is.

After this you will need to have a number of visits with Dr Gahan where he will thoroughly clean underneath the gum line. For some teeth, the gum will be raised away from the teeth in order to be more effectively cleaned. Sometimes antibiotics may also be needed to help improve your gum health.

In more serious cases with advanced bone loss, bone repair and regeneration techniques can also be used.

When the active treatment is completed you will need regular maintenance and cleaning to maintain your gum health. Your own dentist can normally provide this but Dr Gahan will keep them up-to-date with your progress.

How effective is gum disease treatment?

Is gum disease permanent?

After treatment, most problems will resolve, provided your own dental cleaning is very good. In successful treatments, some gum recession is seen, and you may experience tooth sensitivity. In some severe cases further treatment is needed, such as another round of cleaning or gum surgery.

This depends on how advanced the gum disease is. Periodontitis can be treated in most cases if diagnosed early. It’s not possible to cure advanced gum disease, but it can be stabilised and managed. Just like asthma, it’s a chronic condition that needs lifelong management.

How much does gum disease treatment cost?

Gum disease treatment with Dr Gahan starts from £300, but your treatment cost will vary according to your case and the level of treatment required. See our fees page for more information.