Patient’s Information Sheet

FAQ

Gums

How do healthy gums appear?

Healthy gums should be a light pink color.  They should cling closely to the teeth and not bleed when brushed correctly.

What is gingivitis and periodontitis?

These are gum diseases, one of the most common diseases in the world.  Gum disease damages the tissues that hold the tooth in the jaw bone.  Tissues include gums, fibers and the bone itself.  The disease, untreated, leads to teeth falling out.  Although gum disease is the number one reason for loss of teeth among adults, it can easily be treated.

What causes gum disease?

Gingivitis and periodontitis are caused by a layer of bacteria known as plaque.  Latest scientific research shows that these bacteria are the primary cause of gum diseases, especially if they are aggressive bacteria.  Bacteria are found in the mouth, with higher concentration around the teeth because of food residue, their favorite place to populate.  If this layer is not removed, it turns into a solid layer called calculus, coating the teeth.  It cannot be removed by brushing or dental flossing.  This layer then becomes the basis on which additional bacteria accumulate.

How does gum disease start?

Plaque (bacteria) and calculus (hardened layer of plaque) first cause swollen gums, bleeding when brushing teeth, and a bad taste and smell in the mouth (halitosis).  At this stage, you won’t feel pain. 

How does gum disease develop?

The bacteria that cause plaque, calculus and halitosis then begin to rip the gum away from the surface of the teeth.  As a result, a pocket forms in the gum where food residue can collect.  This is where even more bacteria and calculus accumulate, causing infection and diseased tissues. Then the bacteria begin to damage the jaw bone itself, causing osteoporosis (loss of calcium), which makes the jaw bone brittle up to the point where it can no longer hold the tooth.  The tooth loosens, and needs to be extracted.

Stages in development of gum disease.

Gingivitis: this is the mildest form of gum disease or inflammation.  It had not yet affected the bone.  It is characterized by swollen red gums that bleed easily.  It can be reversed through professional treatment by a dental hygienist, followed by consistent good oral hygiene at home.

Mild (moderate) Periodontitis: similar to gingivitis except that osteoporosis of the jaw bone can already be seen clearly in x-rays.  At this stage, only mild surgical intervention is needed.

Advanced Periodontitis: a harsher manifestation of gum disease which destroys the tissues that help hold the tooth in the jaw bone. It is characterized by movement of the teeth, spaces between teeth, aesthetic problems, and functional (chewing) problems and may require extraction of teeth.  In such cases, if it is not too advanced, treatment is much longer and more complicated.

Do other illnesses worsen gum disease?

Yes. Some general illnesses, such as unchecked diabetes or hormone-related illnesses can worsen the situation and accelerate the destructive process caused by the layer of bacteria.

Does gum disease affect general health?

It is currently known that gum diseases, left untreated, do affect general health.  They can:

  • Increase the chances of cardiovascular (heart) disease
  • Make it more difficult to balance diabetes
  • May induce early birth, or lead to underweight newborns
  • Boost the development of respiratory diseases

Is there only one kind of gum disease?

No.  There are several kinds, according to your age, the speed that they develop, and its aggressiveness, but almost all gum diseases are caused by the same factor – the layer of bacteria.

Can gum infections be healed?

Yes, provided that the tooth’s support has not been destroyed and except in the most extreme cases.  Early diagnosis increases your chances of successful treatment.

How is gum disease treated?

Diverse attempts at destroying bacteria with antiseptics and antibiotics have not proven to be meaningful solutions.  There is only one way: removal of the cause, that is, the bacteria and calculus.

What kinds of treatments are there?

There are two stages, the conventional, and the surgical.  In conventional treatments, several thorough deep cleaning sessions, known as root scaling, are performed which remove the accumulated bacteria and calculus from beneath the gums.  Simultaneously, and following clear instructions by the dental hygienist, very strict and consistent oral hygiene must be followed.  This includes correct brushing techniques, dental flossing and employing any other recommended accessories that will help prevent the disease from recurring.

A follow-up examination is made several weeks after the cleaning processes have been completed to decide what the next stage will be.

When the gum disease is in advanced development, pockets may remain that cannot be accessed through conventional deep cleaning.  Simple surgical intervention should be sufficient to remove these pockets.

What is the purpose of gum surgery?

Conventional surgical intervention allows reducing very deep pockets.  Surgery halts progress of the gum disease and prevents loss of teeth. 

What does gum surgery involve?

The gums are separated from the teeth, allowing access to the deepest pockets to remove bacteria, calculus and damaged tissues.  The gums are then sutured back into place.  Sensitivity to cold may appear.  Spaces may also appear between the teeth as a result of removed tissues.  These after-effects tend to disappear over time.

How is damaged jaw bone treated?

As part of the surgical process to remove the deepest pockets of bacteria and gum disease,  it is possible in some cases to reconstruct the damaged jaw bone through bone grafts, use of membranes, or growth proteins that help encourage regrowth.  This is an innovative treatment known as Regenerative Therapy (full explanation on site).  Correct gum status after surgery depends on your consistent, careful following of oral hygiene together with periodic checkups.

How long does treatment last?

The length of treatment depends on the severity of gum disease and the complexity of treatments needed.  Treatment might take several weeks, or need to be spread over a number of months to allow healing between stages.

Is repeat treatment needed?  If so - how often?

No, there is no need for repeat treatment if you stringently follow the recommended oral hygiene regimen and come for regular checkups, which include cleaning provided by the dental hygienist.  Our clinic offers maintenance and support care for all our patients.

Is gum disease hereditary?

No, and in most cases, it can be completely avoided with periodic treatments by your dental hygienist, and strict home care.  There is, however, a hereditary connection relating to tendency towards developing gum disease, which makes it very worthwhile to check all family members.

 

Implants

What are dental implants?

Implants are an artificial metallic substitute for teeth roots.  They usually take the form of a screw and are made of titanium.  They are inserted into the jaw bone, then topped by artificial teeth.  Implants are a breakthrough solution that changed the face of dental care.  Almost all individuals can enjoy their benefits.

Am I suited to dental implants?

It is rare that implants cannot be inserted for medical reasons.  Your age is no reason not to use implants, and many older people, even in their nineties, can enjoy the advantages of implants, especially since golden-agers are those most likely to need them. 

What might prevent me from being suitable for implants?

Smoking, untreated diabetes, or untreated osteoporosis. However, each case must be individually checked.  The specialist will initially want you to check with your personal physician to ensure there are no medical limitations.

How long do I need to wait between tooth extraction and implant?

Wait times are individual.  The current tendency is to do the implant simultaneously with the extraction, saving lengthy wait times.  In some situations, this is not possible due to severe inflammation or insufficient bone, which will require preparatory bone grafting.

What are the symptoms of a rejected implant?

Pain, swelling, abscess or discharge, or implant mobility.

Are implants inserted by laser?

No, there is no such thing.  A laser cannot insert an implant into the jaw bone.  The only thing a laser can do in dental implant procedure is cut the gums instead of the surgeon making the incision.  The drilling needed for implants cannot be done by lasers.

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