Dr Tank talks gum disease prevention
In the first of a 3-part blog our Specialist Periodontist, Dr Manoj Tank, introduces periodontal disease (gum disease) and the importance of good quality prevention techniques.
Let’s talk about bleeding gums
“Oh, your gums are bleeding when I test them,” said Dr Probe the friendly local dentist. “Ah yes that happens all the time, it’s normal isn’t it?” asked the patient, who also said they don’t get any pain so they tend to ignore it, sometimes even avoiding the area so that it doesn’t bleed.
This particular situation is more common than you think but that does not make it normal! Everybody can get bleeding from their gums, and this is called gingivitis. It is a result of inflammation within your gums, which is a natural reaction to bacterial plaque on the adjacent tooth surface. This is entirely reversible with good cleaning at home but you may also need the help of the dental professional (dentist or hygienist).
What are the signs that you may notice? Bleeding gums when you brush or eat (did you ever see a claret colour after biting an apple?), a nasty taste in the mouth or bad breath. It is not usually painful.
What does gingivitis look like?
In some people (roughly 45% of the UK population at last count), gingivitis can progress into a disease known as periodontitis. This involves the breakdown of the special ligament (‘periodontal ligament’) that holds the tooth within its surrounding bone. Once this ligament is broken down by the ongoing inflammatory process the bone also starts to get destroyed. We’ll cover this a bit more in the second blog.
The difficulty with periodontitis is that the signs are pretty much the same during the early stages. Once again it is not usually painful. At the later stages you may well notice wobbly teeth and difficulty in eating, with some eventual discomfort.
What does periodontitis look like?
Periodontitis Prevention Tips
TIP 1: Brush your teeth twice a day for at least 2 minutes and follow this up with good cleaning between your teeth using dental floss and/or interdental brushes (your dental professional will advise what may be most appropriate for you).
TIP 2: You will need your dental professional to check for periodontitis on a routine basis. See your dentist for your regular check-up and they will do a special screening test called ‘BPE’ (Basic Periodontal Examination). They will give a score to six areas of the mouth; if you get a score of 0 you are fine. A score of 1 or 2 means you need a little help from your dentist or hygienist. A score of 3 or 4 may suggest the presence of periodontitis and your dentist may need to organise further assessments to come to a diagnosis.
All good things come in 3’s apparently… but the prevention of periodontal diseases really is that simple! Brush all the surfaces of all of your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste (that bit helps prevent decay), and see your dentist for regular screening (and then of course act upon the findings).
Keeping an eye on your gums
As a useful analogy to finish with, think of gum screening as any other screening test – screening is carried out for other conditions that you may be more familiar with (for example breast cancer screening) and the reason to screen is that it is cheaper to prevent the disease, or indeed pick it up in its early treatable stage, rather than find out when it’s all too late and sometimes impossible to treat. If you have worked out for yourself that you have periodontitis, it may already be in its latter stages so I would recommend getting it looked at as soon as possible.
In the next blog, I’ll discuss periodontitis a bit more to give you a good understanding of the disease, because knowledge is power!
BDS (Brist) MJDF RCS (Eng) MClinDent (Perio) MPerio RCS (Eng)
Manoj is our Specialist in Periodontics, which means he has carried out further intensive training after his initial dental degree to master the clinical understanding and treatment approaches to periodontal conditions and diseases that can occur in the mouth. He has been working at our Camberley practice in Surrey since 2013 and provides all aspects of non-surgical and surgical periodontal treatment including dental implant treatment. He is also trained in “drill-free dentistry” techniques such as laser treatments and air polishing.
He accepts referrals from other dentists in the region and has been involved in the teaching of dental students and qualified dentists. He is a Faculty member of the British Society of Periodontology, in recognition of his involvement in teaching and education, and in 2018 he will be on its Executive Council. Manoj is also a member of the European Association for Osseointegration and has presented clinical cases and research both nationally and internationally, winning the Ron Wilson Research Prize awarded by Kings College London.
Manoj adopts a gentle, caring and understanding approach and works with his patients to gain the very best treatment outcomes. You will always feel safe in his hands and he will always be open to answer any questions you may have.