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About Periodontitis
2017-06-28

Do you suffer from Periodontitis?

Bad breath, inflamed and bleeding gums are often early signs of periodontitis. In the worst cases, toothache and receding gums will occur. If nothing is done, teeth will begin to loosen and fall out, hampering chewing and digestive functions and ultimately impairing overall health.

Early treatment is the best cure

Periodontitis sufferers usually don’t seek early treatment and miss treatment windows. Most seek help in the mid to late stages of the disease when symptoms such as sore gums, loose teeth or toothache affect sleep quality. Sufferers may think gum bleeding is a result of over-vigorous tooth brushing and hope for improvement by gentler brushing. Some may try mouthwash to improve the condition, or blame the symptoms on “heatiness” and take herbal tea for a cure. Others may go to a Physician instead of a dentist, thinking it’s a sign of something wrong with the body.

However none of these responses get to the root of the problem. They may help to suppress the symptoms but they don’t tackle periodontitis head on. Worse still, they delay effective treatment. It only becomes more complicated, and costlier, to treat in later stages when the gums are inflamed. Even if the stop-gap measures provide some relief, they will not prevent gum recession. So it’s paramount to seek treatment as soon as symptoms such as gum bleeding show up.

How can dentists help?

Early treatment is the key for tackling periodontitis. Dental specialists will examine a patient’s family health history as well as dental and lifestyle habits. They will look at whether there are signs of gum bleeding, whether the patient smokes, or if periodontitis, diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases run in the family. They will also check if a patient uses interdental brushes or dental floss. After initial checks, dentists will make a detailed examination, using a probe to check the pocket around each tooth, or use X-ray to measure bone loss, in 2D in most cases or 3D in more complicated cases.

In the event of tooth loss, rehabilitative treatments such as crowns, bridges and implants will be adopted. Implants involve inserting a titanium screw into jaw bone. Within six to eight weeks, the screw fixture will be integrated with the surrounding bone.  Patients should maintain good oral hygiene not only for natural teeth but also around dental implant to prevent infection of the supporting bone and gum.

Are implants the ultimate solution?

Some people think that their dental problems are solved by having an implant and they continue with bad habits such as smoking, drinking or not brushing teeth. Within a few years, there will be bone loss. The prosthesis will appear to be firmly in place in the early stages of gum and bone deterioration as the screw implant is fixed into the bone socket. However, by the time the prosthesis is loose, deterioration will be at an advanced stage.

To avoid this, patients must cut off the bad habits that led to periodontal disease and return to the dentist for regular check-ups after an implant to detect bone loss problems as soon as they happen.

Annual check and scaling is a must

Prevention is better than cure. This applies to periodontal disease as much as any other ailment. A visit to the dentist every six months to a year is advisable, including a scaling to remove plague and tartar when needed.

Dental care is in our own interest. No one cares about our own teeth more than ourselves. So we must be judicious with oral hygiene and maintain good habits to keep our teeth in good condition.

Information from Dr Clive Fung Kin Yue, Specialist in Periodontology