Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, is a pervasive but often overlooked health issue. This oral condition affects the gums and the bones that support your teeth, and if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss and increased risks for other health problems.
This article dives further into this condition, with advice from Dr Sandy Ng, General Dentist at Q&M Dental City Square Mall.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease starts as gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease characterized by red and swollen gums that bleed easily. If not treated, it can advance to periodontitis, a more serious condition that can cause gums to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets that become infected.
Who is at Risk?
The risk factors for periodontal disease are multifaceted, ranging from poor dental hygiene and smoking to genetic predisposition and underlying conditions like diabetes. Age is another factor, as the prevalence of periodontal disease increases with age.
Common symptoms include:
- Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Loose or separated teeth
- Changes in bite or tooth alignment
- Bad Breath
Diagnosis: The First Step to Treatment
Dr Sandy Ng, General Dentist at Q&M Dental City Square Mall, stated that “it is vital to treat gum disease as soon as possible as damage caused by periodontal disease is irreversible. Many patients we see only treat gum disease when teeth have become shaky, and some teeth require extraction due to repeated infections. People underestimate how much early loss of teeth can affect quality of life. The earlier you treat gum disease, the easier (not to mention cheaper) it is to treat, and you get to keep your teeth.”
She added, “A dentist usually diagnoses periodontal disease through a comprehensive dental examination. This involves measuring the depth of the pockets around each tooth using a special probe. X-rays may also be used to check for bone loss.”
The primary aim of treatment is to control the infection. The type and number of treatments will vary depending on the extent of the gum disease. Here are some commonly recommended treatments:
- Scaling and Root Planing: A deep-cleaning procedure that removes plaque and tartar from the tooth and root surfaces.
- Antibiotics: To reduce the bacterial infection.
- Surgery: In severe cases, flap surgery or bone and tissue grafts may be needed.
- Lifestyle Changes: Quitting smoking and improving oral hygiene can make treatment more successful.
Prevention: Your Best Ally
The best way to prevent periodontal disease is through excellent oral hygiene. Brushing at least twice daily, flossing daily, and getting regular dental check-ups can greatly reduce your risk. A balanced diet and quitting smoking can also offer added protection.
Connecting the Dots: Broader Health Implications
Periodontal disease isn’t just an isolated issue. Research suggests it may be linked to systemic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Treating periodontal disease can, therefore, be an essential part of managing other chronic conditions.
Conclusion: Take Action Now
Periodontal disease is a silent but significant health concern that can have far-reaching implications. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for preventing complications. Regular dental visits and good oral hygiene are your first defence against this common but often overlooked condition. Make periodontal care a priority in your health regimen to protect not just your teeth but your overall well-being.