Periodontics – Gum Disease Treatment
The word ‘periodontal’ literally means ‘around the tooth.’
The purpose of periodontics (or gum disease) is to stop or slow down the process of gum disease. Left untreated it may increase the chance of stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular disease.
There is a link between periodontics and diabetes. This is a two-way relationship. It has been shown that the treatment of gum disease in diabetics has a beneficial effect on the management of the diabetic condition and likewise treatment of the underlying diabetes has a beneficial effect on gum health.
Published research is now indicating a link between periodontics and auto immune disease (including Rheumatoid Arthritis) and other conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and even some cancers.
Dr Priestland works closely with his dental hygienist, Sharon Everett, to offer a safe and effective approach to treatment. Treatment strategies in this practice concentrate on a non-surgical approach. There is extensive published literature over the past three decades that clearly shows the outcome of non-surgical treatment of gum disease is just as effective as surgical protocols practiced elsewhere.
Gum diseases or periodontics are inflammatory conditions of the dental supporting tissues including the soft gum and the bone around the teeth. This inflammation can often lead to serious dental concerns including:
- bleeding from the gums
- bad breath
- periodontal abscess
- bone loss
- mobility of the teeth
- tooth loss
Are your gums bleeding, inflamed or red? Treatment today could save your teeth tomorrow
Causes of gum disease
Gum disease is an inflammatory condition where plaque builds up on and around the teeth producing toxic chemical products. This toxic material causes an inflammatory reaction in the adjacent soft gum leading to what is generally known as gingivitis, this is often seen as red or bleeding gums but the condition remains pain-free.
87% of human beings will tolerate this stable inflammatory condition without any further progression and without any resulting destruction of the underlying bone. However, in 13% of the population, this inflammatory condition changes its nature from a protective inflammation becoming a destructive inflammation as seen in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
With a change in the types of inflammatory cells in the adjacent gum tissue we see a gradual destruction of the adjacent bone supporting the teeth, hence the teeth may become loose and eventually may be lost.
What is Tartar
Tartar is the common name given to plaque that has remained on and around the teeth for so long that it becomes mineralised or calcified by the mineral content of the saliva. Dentists call this tartar, calculus. It is a rough, hard, porous deposit that can build up on both the visible part of the teeth in the mouth and on the invisible root surfaces of the teeth beneath the gum margins. Such deposits provide an ideal environment for plaque retention and for the absorption of the toxic materials produced by the plaque.
Left untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss
Gum disease is the prime cause of tooth loss in adults. Once bone loss has taken place no longer is the condition known as gingivitis but rather it is known as chronic periodontitis.
Chronic periodontitis is a slowly progressive condition that may be affected by numerous factors including the patient’s genetic susceptibility to the condition, their plaque control, their general systemic health status and other pre-existing conditions (such as diabetes), stress and finally smoking. Smoking is one of the most important factors influencing gum disease and the outcome of any gum disease treatment will be far better if the patient is prepared to quit this habit.
What makes diagnosing periodontitis difficult
Chronic periodontitis is difficult to diagnose due to the lack of signs of the condition. The only signs which may be evident to the patient is the presence of some bleeding, either following tooth brushing or when eating hard foods that require chewing.
Bleeding from the gums is not normal. It is a sign of disease and should ring alarm bells for the patient. A dental and gum examination should be arranged for such patients without delay.
Pain is not a sign of gum disease generally, except, in patients who have periodontal abscesses, however, these are not found in all patients experiencing bone loss from this condition. This is why so many patients who are seen for the treatment of gum disease and who have been suffering the condition often for a number of years, have remained undiagnosed despite past attendance for dental examinations.
Sharon Everett has been a Hygienist in our practice making an enormous contribution to the treatment of gum disease for the past 5 years. With just under 20 years experience in the field and excellent communication skills, Sharon is not only a highly effective and skilled dental hygienist but she is much loved by her patients.
Sharon has at her disposal all the most modern equipment and materials with which to treat patients suffering all levels of gum disease. Using Piezo scalers she is able to clean all the root surfaces of the teeth under local anesthesia without even the slightest discomfort to the patient. In patients with very advanced periodontitis, she is then able to use a diode laser to obliterate all bacterial plaque leaving the areas beneath the gum free of plaque. This allows for the resolution of inflammation.
Sharon has worked alongside Colin Priestland and a two-way communication has been established allowing open discussion of individual patients that achieves the best possible treatment planning and an individualised approach to each and every patient.
Dr Priestland’s experience
Dr Priestland completed a Master of Science program at the University of London, Eastman Dental Institute in 1989/1990. On completion, he took up the appointment as the clinical advisor in periodontology in the Royal Navy. Colin then provided a specialist referral practice from 1991 to 1998 and following that was appointed as a civil periodontal specialist working with the military until 2002. He has remained in Townsville since 2002 providing the benefits of his training and experience to gum disease patients in Townsville. He is registered as a Dentist in Australia but not Periodontist.