Maintaining the gums and supporting bone structures with periodontics
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the UK. The condition can cause gums to recess, removing teeth of their supporting structures. Periodontics is mostly concerned with preventing the progress of gum disease, but also covers gum grafts, gingivectomies and placing implants.
At Hitchin Dental Care, we have specialist periodontists who have completed extra training to be fully qualified in caring for gums and combating the more destructive effects of gum disease.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is a very common condition caused by the bacteria in plaque, which gradually builds up on the surface of the teeth and eventually hardens, becoming tartar. This can cause inflammation and bleeding of the gums, which is known as gingivitis and is the early reversible stage of the disease. Hygienists can treat this stage and prevent it from progressing.
If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, a more serious irreversible stage that can only be managed rather than cured and which affects around 10-15% of the population. It can cause pockets to develop between the root of the tooth and the gum, which may result in tooth loss. Periodontists can help to halt the progression of the condition.
Although not always obvious, symptoms of gum disease can include:
- Bleeding when you brush
- Swollen, red gums
- Bad breath or a metallic taste
- Gum recession
- Sensitive teeth
Regular screening of teeth and gums can ensure any issues are swiftly spotted, helping to slow or halt the disease. It is important to treat gum disease before it worsens as it has been linked to heart disease and strokes.
What is the difference between periodontics and hygiene appointments?
Both treatments focus on gum disease but at different stages. Hygienists can prevent gum disease and treat the early stage of gum disease – gingivitis.
Periodontists can provide a deeper clean around the gum area – root planning – and remove pockets of infection. They help to combat the progression of periodontitis.
A hygienist can complete a basic periodontal examination (BPE) which charts out where you have signs of gum disease, the severity of the condition and what steps can be taken to maintain the condition. While a hygienist can remove plaque and tartar from the enamel, they cannot carry out periodontal maintenance or gum surgery.
What treatments are involved with periodontics?
If gum disease has progressed beyond the early, curable stages, it will be necessary to clean under the gums. Root planing involves a deep clean and will need local anaesthetic to prevent any discomfort. This removes any hiding bacterial build up.
Where gum disease has caused gum recession, it is possible to use surgery to replace gum tissue and provide teeth with much needed support. We use microscopic surgery for precision grafting, creating a perfectly even finish so no one will know that you have had corrective surgery.
Periodontists can also be called on for cosmetic surgery. If you have excess gums, or a gummy smile, we can use the surgery to remove gum tissue and create a more even finish.