Gum disease is a very common issue that adults face. Dr. Suril Amin and the team of dental professionals at Sensational Smiles in Carshalton, Sutton have years of experience in diagnosing and providing patients effective gum infection treatment. Here, we explain the common signs and symptoms of gum disease and the treatment options available to you if you are suffering from it.
How do we diagnose gum disease?
There are many telltale signs of gum disease, many of which you may notice yourself. The easy ones to identify are:
- Bleeding gums – If your gums are bleeding when you brush, it is because there is inflammation in your gums, which means there is a disease process occurring. Bleeding happens if there is plaque built up on your teeth, which leads your body to think that there is an invasion of bacteria into the body. The body sets off the inflammatory response to heal and fight off the infection, and the by-products of this process cause destruction of the supporting structures of your teeth. The inflammation can be superficial, in which case the gum disease is classified as gingivitis, or it can be deeply involved in the periodontal attachments, in which case it is called periodontitis.
- Halitosis – This is the medical term for bad breath. If you have bad breath, it’s most likely to be caused by poor oral hygiene. As stated above, gum disease is caused by bacteria in your mouth, and having poor oral hygiene is a leading risk factor.
- Gum recession – Although not all gum recession is attributed to gum disease, if you have recession affecting many of your teeth, gum disease is likely the culprit.
- Drifting of teeth – As gum disease destroys the supporting structures of the teeth, the teeth will start to drift to other locations in your mouth.
- Mobility of teeth – Gum disease causes loss of bone around the teeth, which makes them loose.
- Red Gums – You can sometimes tell if someone has gum disease just by looking at the colour of their gums. Healthy gum tissue is pink and firm, but diseased gums are red and swollen. See image below.
How the dentist will diagnose gum disease
The above symptoms are the ones that are obvious. The more detailed things we specifically look for when diagnosing gum disease are:
When you have gum disease, the gums literally move away from the teeth. When this manifests, we call it pocketing. To measure this, we gently place a probe between your teeth and gums and record how far the probe goes down. The further it goes down, the worse it is. Normal measurements should be less than 2 mm. Moderate gum disease is 4-5 mm pocketing, and 5 mm plus is severe gum disease. We encourage you to ask your dentist how bad yours is to get a better idea of the severity of your disease, as this is not something a dentist normally tells patients.
If you have gum disease, we take 6 measures around each tooth to be thorough (this is called a detailed periodontal chart – DPC). This way we can keep track of the progress we are making in your treatment.
The reason pockets are bad is because bacteria from the mouth can get underneath your gums and start to multiply. Because you can’t clean underneath the gums, they form complex colonies and cause severe destruction. Therefore, the aim of gum disease treatment is to eliminate these pockets, which makes it easy for you to clean by yourself at home.
As mentioned previously, gum disease can cause your teeth to become loose. We record this as a mobility score, which can range from 1 to 3, depending on how loose the teeth are. The more bone loss you have, the looser the teeth will get.
- Bleeding Indices
We record the location of bleeding across your whole mouth. The more bleeding there is, the worse the gum disease is.
We also record plaque indices to see how well you are cleaning your teeth at home, so we can make suggestions to improve your technique.
Taking x-rays provides an invaluable record that helps us diagnose gum disease, as it shows us if there are any large deposits of hardened plaque (calculus) and more importantly, if there is bone loss associated with the teeth.
How do we treat gum disease?
This all depends on how severe it is. If its gingivitis or early gum disease the following is advised:
- Simple cleaning above the gums to remove hard deposits
- Teaching to show specific techniques we want you to use at home
A pretty simple process!
If it is advanced gum disease, however, then we need to be more detailed.
Detailed records on the current state of your oral health are done first. Without these, the hygienist is doing treatment blind. Our process at Sensational Smiles is:
- Record a detailed periodontal chart (DPC, explained above) – this allows us to plan treatment and target the large pockets with deep cleaning
- Record plaque, bleeding, and infection from sites across your mouth
- Record mobility levels
- Take x-rays
- Diagnosis and treatment plan (it’s alarming how many dentists/hygienists don’t do this simple but effective task)
- Advice on how to clean
Simple techniques can improve your oral hygiene dramatically. We start off by teaching you simple techniques on how to clean your teeth to a high standard. Once we clean everything up with in-office procedures, we need you to maintain it and good home care is a vital step. If the tips are not followed, treatment will not work as well.
- Professional cleaning, above the gum, to a very high standard
We then proceed to remove calculus and plaque from anywhere above the gum. This is a simple cleaning procedure that will reduce the inflammation and pocket levels substantially. We then wait to see how much this improved the situation and compare this with your initial recordings. We can then target the areas that have severe/moderate pocketing with deep cleaning.
- Deep cleaning, below the gum level
This is advanced treatment that needs to be done to a very high standard. Our hygienist will spend time cleaning this area thoroughly to ensure every bit of plaque/calculus has been removed.
- Wait for 3 months
This gives time for the pockets to heal and allows the gum to re-attach itself back to the tooth, thereby eliminating the pocket. Once the pockets have healed, then it’s easy for you to maintain the healthy state of your gums and the treatment has been successful.
We will review your pocket depths by doing another DPC. This is then compared with the previous records. We aim to reduce all pocket depths or to eliminate the pockets altogether. If some remain but there is absence of bleeding, then we are good. For the ones that remain, we treat these with another round of deep cleaning.
Once the gum disease has been treated successfully, we put you on a maintenance programme, which includes standard 30-minute sessions based on your level of risk. The frequency of these sessions can range from every 3 months to every 12 months.
How much does it all cost?
The treatment cost is as follows:
- 30-minute sessions are £62
- 45-minute sessions are £88.50
- Deep cleaning sessions (1 hour) are £180
Some people respond to treatment very well and they will need minimal sessions. Others need more.
Learn more at a consultation
If you have noticed that your gums are puffy, red, and bleeding, now is the time to take action! Call us at Sensational Smiles in Carshalton, Sutton today at 020 8629 1433.