Frequently Asked Questions
Why choose a periodontist over a dentist or hygienist?
There are many situations where a dentist and hygienist can manage a patient's periodontal health. For patients who are at highter risk of getting periodontal disease, or at greater risk of having their disease progress, with their additional training, Periodontists have a better ability to manage the periodontal health, which is in many cases intimately linked with the patient's own general health. There are numerous studies showing a link between Periodontal disease and Diabetes, as well as links with Coronary Artery disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and other medical conditions.
Sound Periodontal management can in many cases, help to control some of these common medical conditions.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a response by the gum tissue to plaque building up around the necks of the teeth. If your cleaning (brushing and flossing) technique is not correct, plaque will build up at the delicate junction where the teeth come through the gums. This irritates the gums and causes them to become inflamed (gingivitis). You may notice that they bleed when you brush your teeth; they may appear redder than pink healthy gums. In some cases they also swell up. Gingivitis is a reversible condition and effective cleaning will lead to health in a couple of weeks. Where the plaque has hardened into calculus ("tartar") this has to be removed by a dentist or hygienist to allow proper cleaning.
What is periodontitis (pyorrhea)?
Periodontitis is a disease of the gum tissue and underlying bone. Unlike gingivitis, periodontitis is associated with irreversible loss of the underlying bone that holds the teeth in. Gum pockets usually open up between the tooth and gum and act as reservoirs for bacteria unless treated. The rate of bone loss varies very much from individual to individual, but if untreated may well lead to tooth loss. Up to 80% of the population will probably get some periodontitis, and 15-20% of people will lose a significant number of teeth if they do not receive treatment. Like gingivitis, periodontitis is usually painless, and by the time people become aware of problems; eg usually teeth becoming loose or drifting out of alignment, serious damage has been done. If caught early enough, most periodontitis can be treated successfully.
Why do I have bleeding gums?
Bleeding gums are a sign that the gum tissues are unhealthy. It is extremely difficult to make healthy gums bleed. Bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis, usually as a result of ineffective tooth cleaning in the area that bleeds. Bleeding gums may also be a sign of periodontitis, which affects the bone holding the teeth in. If this is not treated it can lead to early tooth loss. Occasionally, bleeding gums can also be indicative of other health issues that may need to be checked and managed.
Why do I have receding gums?
Receding gums are a sign that there has been some loss of the tooth-supporting tissue. In some cases, recession can be an inevitable consequence of aging, however in many cases, recession is self limiting and will not progress. Gum recession around one or two teeth may be a sign that you are not cleaning properly. People who have thin oral tissues are prone to this sort of gum recession. They can increase their risk if they don't clean well enough (leading to gingivitis) or if they brush too hard and scrub their gums away. Careful instruction in the right way to clean by a dental professional is important. This sort of gum recession can be often be treated by minor gum surgery if it is unsightly. progressive, or can't be kept clean.
More extensive gum recession can be an indication of underlying periodontitis. Only a proportion of people with periodontitis will develop gum recession. It is more usual for people's gums not to recede and look superficially fine, whilst losing important attachment under the surface.