Do you have gum disease? Well, studies have shown that many of us have some form of gum disease and it may be more common than you think.
In an oral health survey that was done by Health Promotion Board in 2003, it was found that close to 90% of the adult population examined had signs of mild to moderately severe forms of periodontal (gum) disease. In a more recent study completed in 2010, results showed that 51% of Singapore citizens spend 25 to 44 years of their lives with gum disease.
Depending on the state of your gums, there are various ways to treat different stages of gum disease. Here is a guide for you to find out more about gum disease and gum treatment.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is the inflammation / infection of gums that can progress to affect the bone supporting the teeth. It is caused by the accumulation of bacterial plaque in the teeth.
The three stages of gum disease is gingivitis, mild periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease and when left untreated, it eventually progresses to advanced periodontitis, which is the most serious form of gum disease.
How do I know if I have gum disease?
Also known as the “silent killer”, the presence of gum disease is not necessarily accompanied with pain. Therefore, it is important to keep a look out for the warning signs below.
- gums that bleed easily when brushing and flossing
- swollen, red gums
- receded gums
- persistent bad breath
- loose permanent teeth
- changes in bite
- pus on teeth and gums
If you are experiencing any of these, do visit a Periodontist / dentist so that they can carry out a detailed dental examination for you.
Why do I need to treat gum disease?
Contrary to popular belief, age is not the reason for tooth loss. Instead, periodontitis is the most common cause of tooth loss. Therefore, to ensure we keep our natural teeth intact, gum disease should be treated as early as possible.
The early stages of gum disease is reversible and can be easily treated by having a good level of oral hygiene. Practice good oral care routines by brushing twice a day, flossing daily and visiting your periodontist / dentist two times a year to ensure plaque that has hardened into tartar is removed in a timely manner.
When gingivitis is left untreated and progresses into mild and advanced periodontitis, supporting bone and tissues would have been irreversibly damaged. Professional gum treatment will then be needed to prevent the gums and bones from being damaged further, and increase the chance of preserving the remaining teeth.
Apart from tooth loss, gum disease has been associated with serious health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, pregnancy complications and dementia. The link between oral health and overall body health has been well researched and backed by robust scientific evidence. Therefore, by treating gum disease, you are also reducing your risk of having these health issues.
What are the types of gum treatment?
Here are the common types of gum treatment procedures that are done to treat gum disease:
Scaling and root planing
Also known as deep cleaning, scaling and root planing involves more in depth work by your Periodontist / dentist as compared to scaling and polishing. It is generally done under local anaesthesia so as to minimise any discomfort felt.
Scaling involves removing the plaque from your teeth and any gum pockets that have developed. This can be done by a hand scaler or an ultrasonic scaler. Next, root planing is done to smoothen the tooth roots to help your gums reattach to your teeth.
You may need more than one visit to complete the procedure.
Gum flap surgery
If gum inflammation persists after scaling and root planing, a gum flap surgery may be recommended. During this procedure, tartar is removed from the gum pockets. The gum pockets are then closed with stitches so that the gums hug around the teeth snugly once again. Reducing the pockets will make it easier and more comfortable to brush and floss your teeth.
Bone graft surgery
When gum disease has destroyed the bone supporting your teeth, bone grafting or bone regenerative surgery is done to repair the damage. Materials such as membrane filters, bone grafts or tissue stimulating proteins are used to encourage your body’s natural ability to regenerate the bone and tissue around.
Where can I get gum treatment?
In Singapore, it is possible to get gum treatment via some general dentists or dental specialists. Dental specialists that are specially trained for procedures related to the gums are called Periodontists.
A recognised Periodontist in Singapore would have received additional three to four years of specialised training, build up clinical cases (and experience), as well as pass a Periodontics Specialist Exit Exam.
At Specialist Dental Group, we have a team of experienced Periodontists who can help you with your gum treatment needs.
Can Medisave be used?
For Singaporeans and permanent residents of Singapore, Medisave can be used to pay for some of the gum treatment which involves surgery, such as bone graft surgery.
During your consultation with your Periodontist, he/she will advise on the amount that can be claimed.
How should I care for my gums?
Prevention is the best way to avoid the need for any gum treatment. Maintain good oral hygiene by:
- Brushing two times a day for at least two minutes each
- Visiting your Periodontist / dentist two times a year
- Flossing once a day
If you are smoking, please stop. Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for gum disease. Giving up on smoking will help to improve your oral hygiene drastically.
If you have already embarked on gum treatment procedures, visit your Periodontist regularly as per his/her recommendation. You will be put on a periodontal maintenance schedule where you need to return every three to four months. The higher frequency of follow up appointments is to ensure that gum disease does not return.
Specialist Dental Group’s Team of Periodontists
We have a team of Periodontists that are internationally qualified in the areas of: