Periodontal disease (gum disease) is a chronic inflammatory condition that is bacterial in origin and affects the tissues that support and hold the teeth in place. It is very common, “the 6th most preventable disease of mankind”.
During the early stages it is generally symptom free, but as it progresses tenderness in the gums and a tendency for the gums to bleed when brushing the teeth may develop. As the condition worsens the gums become progressively inflamed. Bad breath (halitosis) can become a problem and the gums recede, denoting underlying loss of the supporting bone resulting in the teeth becoming mobile. This pathway ends in loss of some or all of the teeth.
Periodontal disease can be compounded by a number of risk factors such as poor oral hygiene, smoking, diabetes, hereditary factors, stress and poor nutrition, immunosuppression. Furthermore, life-long control of periodontal disease, as much as possible is a vital part of avoiding tooth extractions after radiotherapy in the head and neck region.
Daily every day home care is of primary importance and can go a very long way to improve oral health and control periodontal disease. This involves effective brushing twice daily and some form of interdental cleaning daily. Where bone loss is involved the damage cannot easily be repaired but the condition can often be stabilised to prevent further damage.
Further reading: Oral hygiene