Gingiva, commonly referred to as gums, is the pink flesh that lie over the jaw and surround our teeth hugging them firmly in place.
Without consistent proper care, the gums can become diseased and if left untreated can result in tooth loss. Periodontal disease is the result of a chronic bacterial infection that adversely affects the gums and bone that support the teeth. When oral hygiene is not consistently observed, bacteria in the plaque (the sticky film that adheres to teeth) causes the gums to become red and inflamed.
Types of Gum Disease
Gingivitus is the first sign of gum disease and is the mildest form. Bacteria and toxins that are produced in deposits of plague irritate the gums causing them to become infected, swollen and tender.
Treatment of Gingivitis
A thorough cleaning by a dental professional to remove plaque and reduce inflammation is the first step in the treatment of gingivitis. This is followed up be adhering to a consistent daily regimen of flossing and brushing the teeth. Use of an antibacterial mouth rinse after brushing is also recommended.
When gingivitis goes untreated, it advances into more virulent forms of gum disease known as periodontitis. Over time plaque can spread under the gum line where toxin-producing bacteria irritate the gums. Sustained inflammation causes the development of pockets of plaque. These inflamed pockets tend to multiply and deepen eventually destroying gum tissue and bone.
Treatment of Periodontitis
1. Deep Cleaning: Root Planing and Scaling
Using manual and ultrasonic instruments, calculus is probed and removed by a dental professional. Scaling involves scraping plaque from above and below the gum line. Root planning involves smoothing rough surfaces on the tooth to remove bacteria that may have collected there. Polishing is the last phase in deep cleaning that creates smooth surfaces on the tooth making it harder for bacteria to adhere.
2. Gingival Curettage
This is a cleaning technique used in conjunction with scaling and root planning. Gingival curettage eliminates bacteria and diseased tissue by removing the soft tissue lining of the periodontal pockets. This technique provides a deeper and more thorough cleaning.
Periodontal surgery involves a technique called the open flap curettage. By surgically separating the gums from the tooth and surrounding bone, deep cleaning and the removal of diseased tissue is then permitted. The shaping and repositioning of the gum, bones and tissue supporting the teeth may also be then performed.