Frequently Asked Dental Questions
Is it normal for my gums to bleed when I brush my teeth?
Bleeding gums are one of the signs of gum diseases or periodontal diseases. Think of gum tissue as the skin on your hand. If your hands bled every time you washed them you would know something was wrong. There are a number of other warning signs of gum disease.
What are the Signs of Gum Diseases?
- Bleeding on tooth brushing
- Red, swollen and possibly tender gums
- Persistent bad breath and bad taste
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Shrinking or receding gums
- Drifting and spacing of the front teeth
- Loosening of teeth, getting longer
- Pus or discharge from around the gums
What are Periodontal Diseases?
Periodontal diseases are serious bacterial infections of the gums and the tooth supporting tissues. These diseases are caused by infected plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria that forms constantly on your teeth. The presence of undisturbed plaque for 2-3 weeks will quickly cause gingivitis noted by redness, bleeding and swelling of the gums. Continuation of gingivitis may lead to formation of pockets surrounding the teeth where bacteria can hide and multiply. Bacterial products will cause further destruction of the bone and the beginning of looseness, drifting and early loss of teeth. Entry of bacteria and their products into the blood stream are believed to contribute to heart diseases and other cardiovascular and respiratory disorders.
Can I Pass my Periodontal Disease to Others?
Periodontal disease may be passed from parents to children and between couples, according to an article in the September 1997 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. Researchers suggest bacteria that causes periodontal disease passes though saliva. This means that the common contact of saliva in families puts children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member. Based on this research, the American Academy of Periodontology recognises that treatment of gum disease may involve the entire family.
Could my Periodontal Disease be Genetic?
Research proves that up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease. These people should be identified before they even show signs of the disease and early treatment may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.
Why do Some People Suffer from Gum Disease More than Others?
Some of us may be more genetically susceptible to severe periodontal disease, and a number of other factors affect disease severities. Family history, stress and tobacco smoking are important contributing factors. Certain general diseases such as diabetes may also make someone more prone to periodontal disease.
What are Periodontal Pockets?
Your bone and gum tissue should fit snugly around your teeth like a turtleneck around your neck. When you have periodontal disease, this supporting tissue and bone is destroyed, forming "pockets" around the teeth. Over time these pockets become deeper, providing a larger space for bacteria to live and multiply under the gum tissue resulting in further bone and tissue loss. Eventually the teeth will be extracted or simply fall out.
What is Root Scaling and Planning?
This is a non-surgical procedure where the periodontist removes plaque and tartar from below the gum line. Tooth root surfaces are cleaned and smoothed with specially designed instruments and equipment. It is important to remove the plaque and tartar from the pockets because aside from the bacterial toxins that irritate the gums, plaque and the rough surfaces of tartar make it easier for bacteria to get a foothold.
How does Periodontal Disease Increase my Risk for Heart Disease?
Several theories exist to explain the link between periodontal diseases and heart diseases. One theory is that mouth bacteria can affect the heart when it enters the blood stream, attaching to fatty plaques in the coronary arteries and contributing to clot formation. Coronary artery disease is characterised by a thickening of the walls of the coronary arteries of the heart due to the buildup of fatty proteins. Blood clots can obstruct normal blood flow, restricting the amount of nutrients and oxygen required for the heart to function properly. This may lead to heart attacks. Researchers have found that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease.
Is there a Relationship between Smoking and Periodontal Disease?
Studies have shown that smoking may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease. Smokers are much more likely than non-smokers to have calculus forming on their teeth, have deeper pockets and lose more of the bone and tissue that support the teeth.
Can Periodontal Disease Increase my Risk for having a Premature Baby?
Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. More research is needed to confirm how periodontal disease may affect pregnancy outcomes. What we do know is that periodontal disease is an infection and all infections are a cause for concern among pregnant women because they pose risks to the health of the baby. If you are thinking about becoming pregnant, be sure to include a periodontal evaluation with a periodontist as part of your prenatal care.
What is the Relationship between Periodontal Disease and Diabetes?
For years we've known that people with diabetes are more likely to have periodontal disease than people without diabetes. Recently research has emerged that suggests that the relationship goes both ways - periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar. We also know that severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts diabetics at increased risk for diabetic complications.
What can be done to Correct my "Long" Teeth or Receding Gums?
Soft tissue grafts and other root coverage procedures are designed to cover exposed roots, to reduce further gum recession and to protect your vulnerable roots from decay. During this procedure, gum tissue is taken from your palate or another donor source to cover the exposed root. This can be done for one tooth or several teeth to even your gum line and reduce sensitivity.
What can be done to Improve the Look of my "Gummy" Smile?
Crown lengthening is a procedure to remove excess gum tissue to expose more of the tooth crown. Your gum line can be reshaped to give your new smile the right look.
What are the Advantages of Dental Implants?
Dental implants look and feel like your own teeth. They can help prevent the bone loss and gum recession that often accompanies bridgework or dentures. In addition, they don't sacrifice the quality of your adjacent teeth like a bridge because neighbouring teeth are not altered to support the implant. Implants are secure and offer freedom from the clicks and wobbles of dentures and the success rate of implants is highly predictable and shown to be over 90%.
Can I have Implants if More than One Tooth was Lost?
Implants are used to replace only one tooth or as many as all the 28 teeth, not counting the wisdom teeth. One implant may replace one tooth, two implants may replace three teeth and sometimes 6 implants may replace 10 to 12 teeth.