Friday, 19 February 2016

What You Need to Know about Periodontal Disease*

Anyone who knows me will know I am proud of the fact I have all my own teeth, have never had a filling or a tooth removed.  I have a huge phobia of false teeth (think Grandma having them in a glass on the bedside table) and this article is one of my biggest fears and one of the reasons I look after my teeth.

What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is one of the two forms of gum disease – the other one being gingivitis. These two diseases affect the tissues supporting the teeth, and cause swelling, soreness and pain, and infection.

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. The gums immediately around the teeth become swollen and red and may bleed easily when the teeth are cleaned.

If gingivitis is left untreated for a long time, it turns into periodontal disease, spreading beyond the gums into the bone anchoring the tooth, as well as the tough ligaments holding it in place. Teeth become loose as bone is lost and may fall out eventually.

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Who suffers from periodontal disease? Most adults have some gum disease, which is a major cause of tooth loss. Thankfully the disease progresses very slowly and with good treatment and hygiene, people can retain most of their teeth for life.

What’s the basic cause of periodontal disease?
In a word, plaque. Plaque is the almost invisible film of bacteria that forms on the teeth each day. Most of these bacteria are harmless, but some contribute directly to gum disease. To prevent gum disease you need to brush the teeth at least twice a day to remove the plaque. Cleaning between the teeth is also vital.

Does smoking make it worse?
Yes. Smokers produce more bacterial plaque and smoking also leads to a drop in oxygen levels in the bloodstream, making it harder for gums to heal. Additionally, smoking can affect bone health, so it’s essential to stop smoking to avoid and treat gum disease.

What happens if periodontal disease isn’t treated?
Gum disease causes hardly any pain, so people might not notice anything wrong until they see blood when brushing. Occasionally infected gums may ooze pus and – rarely – abscesses might develop. Bone density in the gum is lost, loosening teeth, which eventually will be lost.

How can I tell if I have it?
The first signs are blood when brushing, or bleeding when eating. You may also develop bad breath. 

What do I do if I think I have it?
You need to see your dentist for an assessment, which will involve measuring the gum around each tooth for signs of disease. You may also have an x-ray to see if any bone density has been lost. This assessment is vital as there are different periodontal disease treatments and you need to make sure you get the right ones.

If disease is found, your dentist will remove plaque and tartar, as well as show you how to maintain high levels of hygiene at home – a vital part of treatment. 

If periodontal disease has spread to your tooth roots, you’ll need to have plaque scraped from them, under a local anaesthetic. You can expect some pain for a day or two afterwards.

Will I be cured after these treatments
There is no cure for periodontal disease, but you can slow it down or stop it progressing if you remove plaque every day and have regular check-ups.


  1. Ouch! I'm glad I look after my teeth and brush regularly!

  2. Thanks for sharing! It's a great incentive to visit the dentist for regular check-ups and keep up with the brushing & flossing at home.

  3. Ooh that doesn't look pleasant at all but thank you for sharing. You're very lucky to have no dental woes. I've spent years in and out of dentists following an accident. We're good now though :)

  4. This condition sounds painful it's definitely important to keep your teeth clean and go for regular check ups

  5. This is actually very informative! Glad I do go regularly to my lovely dentist :)

  6. Thankfully so far I've never had a filling. I brush and floss and make sure I go to the dentist every six months. I shared a bedroom with my Nan growing up and she had false teeth!

  7. I had this when I smoked but thankfully when I gave up it went away again

  8. I have a major fear of the dentists and really need to get over it

  9. This is a very informative post and extremely useful.

  10. lOts of useful info here, Thanks. I am the biggest dentist avoider in the world, it gives me anxiety just thinking about the place x

  11. Oh gosh those pictures are enough to make anyone head for their tooth brush! :D

  12. I hate the dentists but I make sure the kids go regularly and they're really good at looking after theikr teeth x

  13. Very informative - will be booking the dentist today now!

  14. I have very sensitive teeth which makes me hate the dentist, but like you I've never had a filling so shouldn't really be so nervous.

  15. Oh my! Makes me want to brush my teeth straight away!


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