Frequently asked questions
About gum treatment (periodontics) at 40 Harley Street
What is periodontal disease?
It is a disease that affects the gums and the supporting structures of the teeth. The effects on the supporting structures can lead to teeth becoming loose and they may eventually fall out. Although most individuals suffer gum inflammation from time to time, around 10% of the population appear to suffer from the more severe forms of the disease which can cause loss of supporting bone. This group appears to be at greatest risk of losing teeth through periodontal disease.
What causes periodontal disease?
The main cause is dental plaque. Plaque is an almost invisible sticky film of bacteria, which constantly forms on the surfaces of teeth. If left undisturbed, the plaque can irritate the gums extending below the gum line. This creates pockets that can deepen over time. As the pockets deepen the bone supporting the teeth may then be permanently damaged and the teeth loosen.
By carefully cleaning your teeth each day you can help prevent periodontal disease or prevent it from advancing to a more destructive stage. With practice, good oral hygiene takes less than five minutes (about the same time as shaving or applying make-up). The various cleaning aids and their use will be discussed during treatment.
Why do some people suffer from this problem and not others?
Most of us are affected by periodontal disease at one time or another and it may affect people who are otherwise quite healthy. It can begin without any symptoms or awareness, and progress with alternate periods of activity and inactivity. Our knowledge is improving as to why this is and a family history of periodontal disease, stress and smoking have been identified as possible risk factors. Stopping smoking is an important part of reducing the risk of developing the disease and will also have a positive impact on response to treatment. Certain conditions such as diabetes may also make an individual more susceptible (especially when it is not well controlled).
How do I know if I have the disease?
The signs and symptoms of periodontal disease are extremely variable. Earlier symptoms include bleeding from gums when brushing. Signs of more advanced disease could include teeth feeling loose or you may notice that teeth have drifted from their original positions. However, it is possible to have the disease and not be aware of these signs. In fact in the early stages, periodontal disease is often painless and might go unnoticed. It is therefore essential to have a dental health check regularly so that any signs of early periodontitis can be detected. Smoking masks the early signs of gum disease such us bleeding gums and many sufferers are therefore unaware of having gum problems.
What will treatment involve?
Treatment is needed to preserve the natural teeth in comfort and function. Without treatment the disease can progress and ultimately lead to tooth loss. The aim of treatment is the removal of plaque and any rough surfaces which retain it. This will then facilitate the patient’s own cleaning regime.
In the majority of cases, removal of all or almost all of the plaque from the junction of the gum and the tooth halts the disease process. However, if the plaque is allowed to reform to previous levels, the disease process may resume. This is why we place great emphasis on helping patients to improve their homecare routine and clean teeth effectively.
Can loose teeth be tightened?
Loose teeth may become firmer after periodontal treatment. Teeth that remain less firm after treatment can continue to function adequately for many years. If the degree of looseness is a problem, we may splint teeth to improve stability.
How long will treatment take?
Treatment time depends upon the nature and severity of the disease, and can take from a few visits to many months. The treatment plan that you will be provided with after your initial consultation will include an estimate of the number of appointments needed as well as the duration and cost of treatment.
What happens after treatment?
Following completion of active treatment, periodontal maintenance therapy will be essential to monitor the tissues and to review your homecare. This may include appointments with the hygienist for routine hygiene therapy and regular dental health checks with the dentist.
*Individual results may vary.