Gum disease, formerly popularly known as 'pyorrhoea', is medically referred to as 'gum disease'.periodontal disease'. It is a silent pathology (i.e. in more than 90% of cases there are no symptoms), which affects the supporting tissues of the tooth, mainly bone and gums.
The most characteristic signs are bad mouth odour, abundant dark tartar, bleeding, receding gums, tooth mobility and, in extreme cases, painless tooth loss.
Are there different types?
Periodontal disease is classified depending on the degree to which the patient is affected. The most common cases are gingivitis or gum inflammation, which sometimes presents bleeding and halitosis or bad breath.
Subsequently, periodontitis occurs, which is the progression over time of gingivitis. This causes suppuration, bleeding and mobility due to the involvement of the tissues that support the tooth.
What causes periodontitis?
Periodontal disease depends on habits (hygiene, smoking, alcohol, diet), susceptibility (genetics, lowered defences or immunodeficiency) and on the amount of bacteria in the mouth and their aggressiveness.
There is nothing we can do about individual susceptibility, but we can do something about the other two pillars of the disease:
- The amount of bacteria can be controlled with proper hygiene at home and regular maintenance visits to the dentist or dental hygienist (where plaque control, tartrectomy and polishing will be performed).
- Tobacco affects the gums through heat and its chemical components, accelerating the progression of the disease and camouflaging warning signs such as bleeding.
How is it cured?
In terms of treatment once the patient has this disease, it is advisable to disinfect and clean the roots of the teeth with superficial 'cleanings' or tartrectomies.
In addition, it is necessary to remove factors that retain bacterial plaque, such as old 'fillings' or 'casings', and, in cases where the dental professional deems it necessary, to carry out scaling and root planing under anaesthesia (due to the depth of action).
In extreme cases it can be periodontal surgery to readapt the gums or to clean the gums with a perfect view of the entire root system to ensure that no tartar remains.
Who can treat it?
It is advisable to go to specialised professionals who will be able to recommend hygiene techniques and monitor its progression, as periodontitis is an irreversible disease, and it is best to maintain the level of 'support' of the teeth and not lose bone through frequent attention by your dentist or dental hygienist.