Gum treatment

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Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a widespread disease caused by the accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth, which causes inflammation of the gums.

It affects adults as well as children and teenagers.

The symptoms of gingivitis are very easy to detect:

  • the gums swell, become red and have a smooth or shiny appearance;
  • gums bleed when brushing, flossing, or spontaneously for no apparent reason;
  • the appearance of periodontal pockets (spaces between the gums and the teeth) is also possible in certain cases;
  • one notes chronic bad breath (halitosis), even after brushing the teeth.

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is gingivitis that has not been treated or that has been detected at a late stage. It thus reaches the periodontium (tissues which support the teeth). It represents the most advanced stage of the disease of the gums, and it is serious because the damage which it causes is irreversible. The most significant result is the loss of the teeth surrounded by the periodontium affected by the disease.

The damage of periodontitis is associated with the periodontal pockets which form around the teeth where the tartar accumulated. With time, the bacteria present in these pockets destroy the periodontium, and more particularly, the periodontal ligament and the alveolar bone. By doing so, the teeth will become looser little by little, which could make them appear longer.

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The teeth will then become loose and eventually fall out if no intervention by a dental health professional is performed. The mobility of one or more teeth is what usually leads a patient to see their dentist rather than the pain that is usually not present at this stage of the disease.

Several factors can encourage the appearance of periodontitis:

  • the quantity and the type of bacteria in the periodontal pockets;
  • the presence of certain diseases which influence the effectiveness of the immune system of the patient and its capacity to fight the bacterial infection which has started;
  • genetics;
  • smoking;
  • diabetes.

Preventive Measures

Gingivitis and periodontitis can be prevented by simple means:

  • IMPORTANT: contrary to what most people think, it is necessary to floss BEFORE brushing your teeth because when the floss comes out of the interdental space, it can propel food debris and bacteria onto the teeth;
  • Brushing teeth: it should be done at least twice a day, ideally after meals but especially before going to bed at night in order to remove the film created by bacteria with the food deposits accumulated during the day;
  • Dental flossing: floss, when used properly once a day, ideally at bedtime, will remove food debris and bacteria from between the teeth, areas that are difficult for the toothbrush to reach. To make good use of it, it’s best to wrap the floss around your middle fingers; this will give you more dexterity;
  • Stop smoking: smoking greatly increases the risk of developing periodontal disease.
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The Gingival Recession

When a significant amount of gum attached around one or more teeth is missing, the survival of these teeth is in jeopardy. This condition is a gingival recession, also called receding gums. Gingival recession can cause, in the most severe cases, the loss of teeth if the level of attached gums is inadequate and too much of the tooth root is exposed.

Gingival recession can occur as a result of gum disease or orthodontic treatment. In many other cases, it can be caused by improper tooth brushing (too vigorous or using the wrong technique).

 

Regular Visits to the Dentist

An annual visit is essential, and sometimes more frequent visits may be recommended for individuals whose gums and teeth pose special challenges.

  • During this check-up, a clinical examination is performed to evaluate the quality of the teeth and gums. X-rays are also taken to allow the dentist to obtain additional information about the teeth and surrounding structures that are not visible to the naked eye;
  • If tartar has accumulated on the teeth, professional scaling is performed. To prevent it from coming back too quickly, advice can be given by the hygienist or dentist;
  • It is important for pregnant women to have their mouth examined by a dental professional at least once during pregnancy.

Gum Surgery

The Gingival Graft

A gingival graft can be performed to restore a sufficient amount of gum around the teeth or around the roots of teeth that have been exposed by loosening. Talk to your dental surgeon who will be able to advise you and refer you to the right professional if necessary.

The success rate of gum grafts is very high. The beneficial effects of these grafts last for many years, although slightly less in smokers.

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Gingivectomy

Gingivectomy is a surgical procedure that consists of removing part of the gum. It is performed under local anesthesia and usually does not result in complications.

Recent techniques allow for minor gingivectomies to be performed using a soft tissue laser, resulting in even less discomfort and post-operative complications for the patient.

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Gingivoplasty

Gingivoplasty is a minor surgical procedure to reshape the contour of the gum. It makes a smile more attractive and harmonious and is a complement to a gingivectomy, which alone would not give optimal results.

Local anesthesia is required to perform a gingivoplasty and a soft tissue laser can be used. Complications are rare and post-operative discomfort is minimal.

Gingivoplasty is often used as part of orthodontic treatment to finalize the aesthetic appearance of the smile. In fact, by moving teeth with crowns of different lengths, the smile line may not be optimal because of the gums that irregularly contour the teeth.

A dental health professional may also use gingivoplasty as a treatment for gum disease. In this case, gingivoplasty can restore the gums to a normal shape after treatment of deformed, damaged or necrotic alveolar bone.

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