The film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth is called "plaque". This is the cause of dental caries (tooth decay) and periodontal disease (gum disease). When the tissue which supports the teeth and attaches them to the jaw becomes inflamed, this is known as Periodontal Disease. Milder forms of this where the inflammation only involves the soft gum tissue is known as Gingivitis, however when the inflammation reaches the bone, it is termed Periodontitis.
As the development of periodontal disease is very slow, it normally goes unnoticed until it is quite advanced. We recommend that you be aware and look out for the following signs and see the dentist if you see signs of any symptoms listed below:
- Red, or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Bad taste
- Bad breath
- Gum shrinkage
- Loose teeth
- Teeth drifting apart
Nearly every adult suffers from some degree of periodontal disease, it is more common than you may think, every year many teeth are extracted because of periodontal disease. It is important to keep our teeth clean by brushing regularly to stop the build up of plaque. As the hard to reach areas of the mouth are the back teeth, it is commonly those that suffer the most from this problem.
Periodontal disease can be cured depending on the severity of the inflammation. In early cases (gingivitis) the dentist or the hygienist can clean away the calculus (tartar) and show you how to clean and take care of teeth properly. If the suggested routine is followed, you will soon have healthy, pink, firm gums again. If the inflammation has spread to the bone, it is advisable that treatment begins as soon as possible as in very advanced cases, extractions may be necessary.
It is your responsibility to keep your teeth clean every day. The dentist or hygienist will clean away the plaque and tartar for you by scaling, this may require several visits if the build up is quite advanced. You will be shown proper teeth cleaning techniques so that you can get into good brushing habits. As the crowns and roots become clean, the inflammation will reduce and will disappear and the gums will tighten up around the root surfaces. Loose teeth may become firmer.
Even with an effective toothbrush it is not always possible to remove all plaque from between the teeth. Daily use of an interdental cleaning aid such as tape (floss) or an interproximal brush can help remove plaque from these difficult areas, and improve oral health.