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NHS Dental Care

Periodontics

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease affects the gums, bone and other supporting tissues of the teeth. 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 cause loss of supporting bone. This group appears to be at greatest risk of losing teeth through periodontal disease. It is caused by the bacteria which regularly collect on the teeth.

Why do some people suffer from this problem and not others?
Around 10% of the population is susceptible. Our knowledge is improving all the time of why this is, although 3 major factors are thought to be responsible. Family history, stress and smoking are all important risk factors. Stopping smoking is an important part of reducing the risk of developing the disease. Certain general diseases such as diabetes may also make an indivdual more susceptible.

How do I know if I have the disease?

The signs and symptoms of periodontal disease are extremely variable but may include gums that bleed on brushing together with signs of more advanced disease such as mobility or drifting of the teeth. However, it is possible to have the disease and not be aware of these signs. It is essential to attend a general dental practitioner regularly so that special assessment techniques, sometimes including x-rays, can be carried out as part of your routine dental examinations.

What should I do if I think I might have the disease?

Regular dental examinations by a general dental practitioner will ensure that a correct diagnosis is made. The dentist will then be able to advise you on any necessary treatment. This will often include instruction in specific oral hygiene methods to help you control the bacteria that collect on your teeth. There may also be a need to carry out some professional cleaning of your teeth. Most cases of periodontal disease can be successfully treated by your dentist using methods such as these. Occasionally, more complex treatments are required and your dentist will advise you accordingly.

 

British Society of Periodontology