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What is gum (periodontal) disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. In its early stages, it is usually painless, and many people are not aware that they have it. But in more advanced stages, gum disease can lead to sore or bleeding gums, painful chewing problems, and even tooth loss.

What causes gum disease?

Gum disease is caused by dental plaque -- a sticky film of bacteria that builds up on teeth. Regular brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque. But plaque that is not removed can harden and form tartar that brushing doesn't clean. Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar.

What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease. It can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing, and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place.

What is periodontitis?

When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontitis (which means "inflammation around the tooth.") In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form "pockets" that become infected. The body's immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body's enzymes fighting the infection actually start to break down the bone and tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.

Is gum disease a normal part of aging?
No, gum disease does not have to be a part of growing older. With proper dental hygiene and regular dental visits, people can reduce their chance of developing periodontal disease as they age.

What happens if gum disease is not treated?
If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in older adults.

Can gum disease cause problems beyond the mouth?
In some studies, researchers have observed that people with periodontal disease (when compared to people without periodontal disease) were more likely to develop heart disease or have difficulty controlling their blood sugar. But so far, it has not been determined whether periodontal disease is the cause of these conditions.

There may be other reasons people with periodontal disease sometimes develop additional health problems. For example, something else may be causing both the gum disease and the other condition, or it could be a coincidence that gum disease and other health problems are present together.

More research is needed to clarify whether gum disease actually causes health problems beyond the mouth, and whether treating gum disease can keep other health conditions from developing.

In the meantime, it's a fact that controlling periodontal disease can save your teeth -- a very good reason to take care of your teeth and gums.

What are the risk factors for gum disease?
There are a number of risk factors that can increase your chances of developing periodontal disease.

  • Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of gum disease and can even lower the chances for successful treatment.
  • Hormonal changes in women can make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
  • Diabetes puts people at higher risk for developing infections, including gum disease.
  • Diseases like cancer or AIDS and their treatments can also affect the health of gums.
  • There are hundreds of prescription and over-the-counter medications that can reduce the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on the mouth. Without enough saliva, the mouth is vulnerable to infections such as gum disease. And some medicines can cause abnormal overgrowth of the gum tissue; this can make it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean.
  • Some people are more prone to severe gum disease because of their genetic makeup.

Are there ways to prevent gum disease?

Yes, you can prevent gum disease with proper dental hygiene and regular cleanings by your dentist or dental hygienist. Specifically, you should

  • brush your teeth twice a day (with a fluoride toothpaste).
  • floss regularly to remove plaque from between teeth. Or use a device such as a special pick recommended by a dental professional.
  • visit the dentist routinely for a check-up and professional cleaning.
  • not smoke.
  • eat a well-balanced diet.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?
People are not often aware they have gum disease until it is advanced. Any of these symptoms may be a sign of a serious problem and should be checked by a dentist.

  • bad breath that won't go away
  • red or swollen gums
  • tender or bleeding gums
  • painful chewing
  • loose teeth
  • sensitive teeth
  • receding gums or longer appearing teeth

Sometimes gum disease has no clear symptoms.

What are possible treatments for gum disease?
Treatments may include deep cleaning, medications, surgery, and bone and tissue grafts.

Frequently Asked Questions about Periodontal Flap Surgery

Q : What is Periodontal Flap Surgery ? Why do we need it ?
If excess plaque and tartar buildsup on your teeth, it destroys the fibers and bones around the tooth as a result of Periodontal disease. Periodontal Flap Surgery refers to the procedure wherein the periodontist treats defects in the bone surrounding the infected teeth and eliminating periodontal pockets.

Q : What precautions need to be taken after the surgery?
Following the Periodontal Flap Surgery, a patient has to take several precautions such as :

  • Avoid strenuous exercise
  • Avoid consuming hot beverages
  • Follow the medication properly
  • Apply ice packs if there is any swelling
  • Avoid brushing on the surgical area for around 5 to 6 days

Q : What are the technological advancements in Periodontal Flap Surgery?

Several newer techniques and materials have been evolved in Periodontal Flap Surgery due to the advancement of medical science. The most recent method is regeneration wherein the lost tissues are reconstructed to a certain extent using modern techniques such as bone grafts and guided tissue regeneration.

Q : Is flap surgery a permanent cure?
Just like chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and hypertension, Periodontal Flap Surgery has no permanent cure. Even after the surgery, you’’ have to go for regular checkups.

Q : What is the cost of Periodontal Flap Surgery?
Depending upon the needs of the patient, the cost of Periodontal Flap Surgery varies. The cost of treating gums is less as compared to replacing lost teeth.

Q : Who is the candidate for Periodontal Flap Surgery?
Periodontal Flap Surgery is recommended for people with moderate or advanced periodontitis. A treatment called scaling and root planning is done first and after evaluation flap surgery is the next phase.

Q : What is the recuperation period after Periodontal Flap Surgery?
After the surgery, you may experience moderate discomfort. Your periodontist will recommend you with pain killer medicine. Except the surgical site, you should brush and floss rest of your mouth on a daily basis. The time period involves around 7 to 10 days.


TAKKAR Dental CLINIC provides high quality, affordable dental and oral health care to thousands of people.